With Parent-Teacher Conferences coming up next week, I thought it might be helpful to spend this moment discussing the Montessori practice of Record Keeping and how it informs the individualized work our teachers do with your remarkable children every day.
To start, all Montessori instructors, whether they teach toddlers or elementary students, utilize the Three Period Lesson, which entails Presentation, Practice and Mastery.
Presentation is the initial introduction of the Montessori lesson or material. This can happen in a small group, with the whole class or 1:1 with an individual child. Once the lesson has been presented, they will move on to Practice. During this period, the instructor records copious observations of how the student is executing the presented lesson. If the teacher finds they need to present the lesson again or offer extensions to the lesson in order for the child to be successful, they will make sure to do that. Finally, the child will reach Mastery of the lesson, where the teacher records that the student has achieved the direct aim of the work.
In order for all this to be successful, Montessori Guides vacillate between diligent observation and planning sessions for each child in their care. The best way for our teachers to control record-keeping work is through weekly lesson planning. Each Guide is able to “set up” the children to master works that will then lead them to their next discovery. Much of a Montessori Guide’s work is to make the child feel they are in control of these discoveries the whole time, fostering their budding intellectual independence!
While Gladwyne Montessori teachers work to share your child’s mastery of different works during Parent-Teacher Conferences, there is a lot of thought that goes into noting what your child returns to again and again, what they choose on their own, what lessons they ask for and their reactions to observing their peers. Equally important is finding ways to encourage children to try new works or activities they perhaps do not favor. For example, if a child is passionate about trains, Guides might design a literacy activity around them if they are resistant to literacy lessons. In this way, your child can be guided to experience success in mastering something they would not have otherwise chosen to practice. Teachers often scaffold lessons or works the child can already do with the next step or challenge to gently encourage their mastery.
All of these observations lead us to robust, personalized conference reports that continue to inform the work we do with your individual children throughout their Three-Year Cycles and during their tenure at our special school.
We are all so looking forward to sharing our observations with you!
Gwen Shangle, Director of Montessori