Friday, December 2, 2016

Do Montessori teachers teach?

This is one of the great questions that Montessori teachers receive, and of course which has many answers.

Recently, I received this question from a visitor who had spent time watching one of our converted Montessori classrooms. The visitor was surprised to see the teacher sitting and watching keenly on the children and seemed to be taking notes rather than teaching. This gesture did not appear comfortable to the visitor who expected to see the teacher taking control of the teachings.

This also reminded me one of Dr. Maria Montessori quotes that “Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but experiences in the environment” –

Teaching in a Montessori classroom does not involve the teacher taking the lead or being the focal point in every lesson or activity. This is one aspect that is misunderstood by many who get a chance to observe at any Montessori classroom.
Montessori teachers do not teach, instead they are thoroughly trained to observe and guide the children to explore and teach themselves.

SayamaYin Yin OO keenly observing her class in Myanmar
The Montessori teachers are also trained to prepare an attractive environment that connects and calls for the child’s attention to direct their own learning. With the use of fun activities, Montessori teachers also demonstrates and models to children on how to conduct themselves in the classroom as members of the same family, while being aware of each child’s needs at a particular moment.

Observation is the first task of a Montessori teacher which requires preparations and an ongoing cycle to see through all the happenings in the classroom. Through observations, the teachers are able to get development picture for each child at a given moment. And therefore, Montessori teachers know so well when to step back on the observation chair to observe, and this somehow answered the visitor’s question. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Our recent updates!

It has been a while since we posted new happenings, and we are delighted to make a comeback with an exciting continuation of our journey in Mawlamyine- Myanmar.

As usual we began by providing the teachers with a two week in-house- basic Montessori training in May, with a view to equip them with basic Montessori principles and more especially to enable them link the children to activities and experiences in the prepared environment. The first week we focused on the theory and lesson presentations while the second we created few materials for child use. The training was also attended by many participants from other organizations and schools around Myanmar.
In house- basic Montessori  training - theory session.
In connection to this, we have converted Shwe Naut Taung School with a total of 100+ children who will benefit from the Montessori program.

At the moment we are at the first stages of guiding the children to develop order, coordination, independence and concentration through the various practical life activities. We have noticed an interesting natural drive need as the children want to do things for themselves, repeat activities over and over and act accordingly with so much joy.
I can wash my own hands!

For instance, the hand washing and drying using the individual hand towels has stimulated conversations among children as they spend time outside admiring and talking about the arrangement of the towels. This has also brought a sense of achievement among the children as they have gained confidence by learning how to care for themselves after using the toilet, after wiping their noses and before eating.

“The exercises of practical life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori.

Now ! the actual work has begun …… please come back for some more updates as the children gradually progress.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gardening activity!

Over the past couple of months Thailand has been receiving continuous rainfall which prompted the discussion about rain water at our classrooms. The children shared their ideas on the importance of rain water and how to take care of themselves during rainy season.
Watering the crops activity
We also talked about different types of food crops that grew during rainy seasons and we saw curiosity and deep interests on the lesson as the children gave amazing suggestions from corn, morning glory, salad, long beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, kales, onions, carrots etc.

We extended our discussion to the outside of our classrooms in order to have the children interact and experience nature through gardening.

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that nature was the most important place of learning for children. Montessori also saw the importance of connecting the children with nature in order to give them opportunity to experience with the natural world and to teach them to respect it.

Harvesting  the vegetables at Wangpha,Huay mai pen & Namdip

Thereafter, we invited the children to choose the 
seed crops they wished to plant, and surprisingly most of them settled for morning glory, onions, Kales while others on corn.

The children loved the idea of digging the soft soaked soil and getting their hands dirty. Together we prepared the garden beds, made rows, planted the seeds, and sometimes watered and watched them sprout and grow. Each morning the children could visit the garden to check on any new growth and learned a lot more by observing the growing process and nurturing the seedlings from beginning to grown plants. Besides planting and nurturing the plants the children were sure of harvesting and preparing their crops for food which provided them with a unique opportunity to learn how to keep their bodies healthy by eating lots of vegetables. The gardening activity encouraged the children to be good environment stewards and also created a sense of responsibility.
Washing the vegeatables - Practical life activity

 “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength”. Dr.  Maria Montessori

Finally the children enjoyed their vegetables meal- Yummy, Yummy!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Khomloy Montessori journey in Mawlamyine city - Myanmar.

This was a successful month for Khomloy Montessori project and we are proud to announce this important step on launching of our long awaited program across Thailand border. While we made tremendous strides in the Thai-Burma border in the recent years, it has always been our dream to expand this amazing program to other countries within Southeast Asia.

We are delighted that Khomloy Montessori project has finally made remarkable progress by converting a pioneer Montessori classroom in Mawlamyine – Myanmar with an objective to improve and increase the access to quality education for Myanmar children and community at large through the Montessori method.

To this regard, we have added St. Joseph Nursery School to our list of over 60+ converted classrooms and we view this additional as a perfect fit for Montessori project as we expand to equip the children with what they need to foster their independence and allow them reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. And as a result, KLDF is positioned to continue converting more preschool classrooms in Myanmar to build on the implementation of the best quality education system and accommodate more students in the future.

St Joseph nursery school is run by a group of independent catholic sisters who have dedicated their time to provide the young children with some learning and also care for underprivileged teenage girls. Moreover, since conversion the school has enrolled over 50+ children and the numbers are increasing by day. We have been providing regular in-house Montessori trainings to the sisters and the progress is quite encouraging. 

Besides, we look forward to identify ways to work closely with the parents to help them understand the importance of the child’s first years since we noticed most young children 2-4 years are generally kept at home.

The launch of this amazing project was made possible by Point B Design + Training organization based in Mawlamyine- Myanmar, who have been providing technical support, facilitating communication and coordinating to ensure the program is set up. 

I would also like to thank my fellow colleagues for their exceptional dedication, which has enabled KLDF Montessori project to continue to expand.
Please keep following the progress as we begin "actual" work in this environment. Also enjoy our short video clip below, or see the video link as well. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Connecting with our eyes and voice tones.

Resident teacher talking to a student at Baan Huay mai pen school.

For the past couple of weeks we have been redirecting and connecting with our students to attain independence. One of the tools we have been using is our eyes and voice tones.

A good eye contact means communication, while a quieter voice volume indicates friendly.

Eye contact and moderate voice tones are one of essential tools in a Montessori classroom. Modeling the usage of these social graces encourages attention, good listening skills, interest, and respect and also creates understanding within a classroom community. This also provides the teacher and the learner with the assurance of being appreciated.
Montessori classroom at Baan Wang pha school

When new children come to our classrooms for the very first time, some express excitement to touch and explore everything in the environment, whilst others jump, run, scream, cry and sometimes these children are regarded as naughty and disruptive. One thing that we have to understand, most of these children get exposed to all kinds of noises both indoor and outdoor at their home environments for instance yelling or shouting of siblings/parent, computer games, loud music, cars, airplanes etc. 

However, once they enter a Montessori classroom they experience a total different surrounding with harmony, calm, and peace they also meet friendly and inviting adults who bend their knees to their levels, give eye contact and speak warmly with moderate voice tones. The modeling of these gestures contributes highly to the children's development at the classroom environments since the children sense acknowledgement.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Few guidelines to our wonderful resident teachers

After hours of attending several in house on the job Montessori trainings and practicing, our teacher trainers are ready to begin working at their assigned classrooms. The teacher trainers are full of enthusiasm and eagerly anticipating to apply all they have learned. Despite the preparation, the beginning of a school year can be challenging and things may not go as planned and we may sometimes feel somehow discouraged and uninspired. However, today we are happy to share few guidelines with all our wonderful resident teachers at all our Montessori converted classrooms who are engaged with the children’s education start.
·         Ensure the environment is well prepared to meet the children needs. Have self-awareness and role model the positive behavior and discipline that you want the students and colleagues to copy from you. Act as a resource person.
·         Remain calm, patient, relaxed and enjoy each particular moment with the children or colleagues and remember always to put on a “Happy Smilling Face”!.
·         Be flexible, ask for help/questions and be open to learn, to improve, grow and progress.
·         Prepare the lessons beforehand and provide enough work to inspire the children in the classroom. Make sure to observe children’s needs and adjust the activities based on the level of energy & interests
·         Sometimes, in the first school days, the prepared environment may not be engaging enough to some children, therefore do not be discouraged, instead take the children out door for a walk to refresh, observe and learn from the nature.
Besides, we are all delighted to be instrumental in bringing the Montessori method to migrant, hill tribe children and community at large. 
In addition, today we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you the key figures in KLDF Montessori and Uplift projects team members who positively contribute to the success of children and community developments. 

Above are some of team members who happened to be at the office that day from left to right - Lin Min Aung,Sunisa,Sawanee,Moe Thu,Damaris,Nipha,Htet Zhaw and Sai Aung Tun. WE ARE A TEAM!.

Montessori project team members.
Uplift project team members.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Talking stick!

Montessori project peace table
Montessori peace education is actively promoted in our classrooms. Many symbols ( peace stones, peace roses, talking sticks etc) are used to emphasize this valuable virtue in teaching and modeling peaceful and positive communication in our classrooms. The peace education helps the teachers to remain aware of creating an environment that promotes peaceful individuals which requires they practice what they preach. For example: show kindness and speak respectfully to children, parents and colleagues etc.

Teachers busy making their talking sticks.

Our talking sticks circle - sun burst!

Dr. Maria Montessori once said: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”  Therefore, teachers ought to be the “Peace ambassadors” by demonstrating peace in our classroom, communities and the entire world as well.

During our recent basic Montessori in-house training, our participants made their own talking sticks symbol to encourage listening and speaking skills opportunities at their classrooms. Some joked how they would introduce the sticks to their spouse and families as way to enhance patience, understanding and taking turns while talking to each other at home.

Eventually, the teachers learned how to prepare a peace corner; table and garden as well as activities to encourage the children resolve their conflicts themselves without intervention of the adults.  The teachers also expressed the eagerness to introduce this important tool into their classrooms once converted into Montessori environments next school year.

Happily showing/celebrating our talking sticks