Monday, January 26, 2015

Working the Work Plans

Okay, hot topic, work plans. 

Okay, disclaimer: The following is only my opinion and my opinion alone. I am not a formally trained Montessori guide and the following description is entirely my own interpretation of the texts I've read and the conversations I've had. 

I was writing to a friend the other day to answer her question, "what do you DO with the information that comes out of your work plan conversation with the child" when I thought, oh hey, this response is like a post all by itself. So here is part of what I wrote to her.

(If you are interested in reading my run-on sentences about my work plan epiphany you can go here to this post.)

But, just to recap, what we use now: 
T and S each keep a work journal. We have a conversation each Monday about what they did last week, what they didn't get to last week, what they really liked doing last week and want to do this week, what new lessons I'd like to give them this week, and what lessons they should pay attention this week to since they were ignored last week.

T and S write down these lessons in their work journal in a special weekly list. Then daily, they refer to this list when they need to figure out what to choose next. 

We have another conversation mid-week to assess what is getting done and what isn't getting done and why. This isn't a judging "why" just a let's see "why." 

Each day, T and S note down the works they did in a daily entry page and then we can see next week what they did the previous week. 

It was really the conversation piece that tripped me up. Up until about two weeks ago, I had been to the one leading the list making and the children always did just the bare minimum to get through their work list. I just FELT something was missing. It seemed like the child-led, freedom of choice part was just not there. I was giving them the lists and the planning activity was actually an adult-led work. 

Then I realized that our conversation about what we did and didn't do was the key. Engaging the child and letting them know the reasons why we make planning lists was the key. And then making that list a living list was key.

My friend asked, how do you implement this work plan conversation? How is this work plan woven into your classroom life? What goes on?
First a Conversation About the Past...
On Monday I sit down with T, or S, individually and we have a conversation, led by me. I ask them to look in their work journals and describe which works they did last week. T would look at last week's work plan list and his daily entries and say, the puzzle map of Europe for memorizing country names, a geography lesson about latitude and longitude, the bells matching, grading, and definition cards, the bank-game with 3 digit multipliers, etc. (He would remember some of the works' specific names and he may have to walk over to the bells to re-look at the labels on the outside of the card packets he used. This detail isn't always in his daily journal entries--yet.) Then we'd review how well his daily work choices covered what was in his last week's weekly work plan. We'd just point out what he got to and what didn't get done to draw his attention to the amount that he did accomplish, how well his work choices followed his work plan, and the specific works he ignored. This isn't a judgement but rather a light toned conversation to call attention to last week's highlights.

Then I'd ask him what works did he liked best and ask him if he'd like to continue those works in the coming week. If so, he'd write down these works in this week's work plan, or whatever work came next along those threads. T might say, "I liked the bank game", and since he finished all the lessons for that material we'd write down the work that comes next: the checkerboard with 2-digit multipliers. This last bit of information is usually supplied by me, though sometimes the child will know what work comes next...see below how they might know.

I don't really ask which works he didn't like. I can usually tell from observation which things he didn't want to do and didn't get to. I'll just note these omissions and seek other ways to make these works interesting and work he chooses to do. 

Occasionally T will let me know that a work was particularly difficult and I'll suggest we do a new/repeat lesson on that work. Other times, he'll say that he doesn't like a work and then it is my job to figure out a way to make working on that skill more enticing for him. (Notice I wrote "working on that skill." I believe the child doesn't always need to work every work, and can sometimes pick up the same skill doing a different work. It is just my job to make sure that T practices each key skill the albums outline.)

While we are writing down and talking about the works for the week to come, I'll mention works that come next AFTER the works he is doing right now even if they aren't going on the work plan for a couple weeks yet. Sometimes we even take a peek at the new materials. This kind of inspires him to choose works that get him to the next level (and me to find shelf space for that work) without seeing other children doing that next level...especially since there usually aren't children in our classroom doing any level beyond T's level. I'll just note here that this is a very IMPORTANT part of our conversation. I'll call it enticing action!

I like to know what comes next. Perhaps we all do in some way. But the reality of life is that we don't always get to know what comes next. My planning brain likes to project what comes next. I'll come out with a bunch of "what-if" permutations and follow each through to a mental conclusion, estimate which permutations are most likely and work to prepare for those. I think the kids like to know what is next too. Maybe, just maybe, at this lower elementary age what comes next in life is more predictable than it will ever be. Since my children like to know what comes next, I show them what works come next. It is kind of comforting to know what is around the bend, even the stinky challenging stuff. I kind of wish more of life was like that.

About the Present...
So next, (and I do progress in this topic order) our conversation continues. I mention the works that I'd like to introduce during the next week. Sometimes these are works T has no idea even exist. For example, we didn't do any geometry last year so it is a totally new subject this year. I'd say, "please write down that I will give you a geometry lesson this week. It will be about congruency and similarity." And I write this down in my planner book too to make sure I prepare for that lesson the night before. We sometimes talk a bit about what is involved with that lesson if there is interest and to get him interestedSometimes there is a choice he can make in the matter, like, would you like the lesson on Tuesday or Wednesday, or with or without S and we note down his decision as well.

I also ask T if there are lessons or works he'd like to do that he didn't have on his list last week. For example this week he doesn't have biome readers on his list, but he sees his sister reading these colorful booklets and I suspect that he might request this work too. If the work choice is appropriate then I'll approve the new list addition. If the work choice isn't appropriate for some reason, like his list is already long, and we can't eliminate something else, or...well I can't really think of another reason we'd deem the work choice inappropriate, we'd discuss why the work isn't going on the work plan list. If the work seems to be an outside-the-classroom kind of work, we'd work :) to make it an inside-the-classroom kind of work by perhaps incorporating it into something he is already doing. (I don't mind too much if  T or S wants to do a primary work. Many times they just need a break. Or, if there is a more advanced version of that primary work, I redirect and suggest that they do the more advanced version. For example, if T wanted to wash a table, maybe I'd have him wipe down the vanity counter in the kids' bathroom instead and help me out with the house cleaning that week.)

I also have T write down on his work plan list lessons we do every day, like dictation, like prayer memorization, and activities we do weekly, like changing out the flags.

Finally, I look through what he has written down and suggest we fill in some gaps. If I want to give a nudge in the grammar corner, I'll say, "I see that you wrote down grammar boxes last week, but didn't get to any of them. Why don't you write down that you'll do 4 this week. There are 23 left to do, and I know you do these quickly so 4 shouldn't be too much in one week. If you need a reminder lesson for any part of speech just let me know and we'll schedule a lesson. You can do all four boxes in in one day, or do one box per day. Also, you can chose from any stack, but you need to do the stack starting from the top. Let's check in mid-week next week and see how much you've done by then."

Do the work plan lists get long? It depends. I try to keep them pretty short and manageable so that they have a prayer of getting through most of it. 

Through each "stage" in our conversation (what did you do last week/review, what did you want to continue doing/favorites, new lessons/brand new topics, other new lessons/other interests, daily/weekly activities, lessons to pick up again) I am keeping a mental tally in my head and prioritizing the list we are creating together. I know about how long it takes T to do any given lesson (though sometimes he surprises me by zipping through) and though I don't want to overload him, I want to give him a small challenge and list on a few more lessons than I think he can manage in a week. I do this to encourage him to prioritize and plan. When you can't do it all, what do you do? When there is a lot, how do you manage your time? 

Every Sunday I make a list of works I think we should be getting to during the week and I know what is coming up, how much I'd like to get through by semester's end, and how fast T is moving through what threads. Basically, I can tell what balls are in the air and which have seemed to have rolled elsewhere and I can help T put those lost balls back in play.
About the Future...
T and S and I usually check-in midweek and have a light review discussion. We simply point out the works he has completed, which he's started, which lessons I've given, which lessons he has yet to ask for, and which things he has ignored. I use this time to remind him of what he set out to do and go over the things that have gotten in the way of him doing everything on his list. These other things might very well be valuable outcroppings and very worthy works so I don't judge or criticize but rather just point out that life happens and we can make good responsible choices in response and we can make not-so good choices too.


*          *         *

This planning method feels to me to be a more a child-led process. T has input and can write down works he wants to do and I gently suggest filling in the gaps. T chooses which works he wants to tackle and when he wants to work on those works. I observe and devise creative ways to get T interested in working on the lessons he has ignored. My goal is to help T and S, and later D, learn HOW to plan, how to create goals and how to work to achieve those goals, and how to deal with life that sometimes gets in the way.

I feel there is so much more to write about this topic. The "what ifs", the how does the child know what is required of them, how to do you keep up with the public school curriculum, and the "what do you do whens"...these will have to wait until I have another quite moment to think about these topics and have the inspiration to write.

So this is how I do it. It may not be 100% Montessori, but so far it is working for our little group at home.

Sorry, a long, long text-only post. Maybe fun for you to read? Maybe these posts aren't as fun to read and write as the school posts, so stay tuned for more school this week!

19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Um. ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT Montessori!

    Perfect!

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  3. Nice job, good explanation. Next time anyone asks me about this, I'm sending them over here.

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    1. Thanks to you both. Knowing that the "experts" I always turn to for advice "approve" makes me feel like we are going down the right path.

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  4. This post and your last post on workplans really reminded me of how I to make sure the child is part of the process. I was so obsessed with the transitioning part (where you made the plans for them), I forgot to have a conversation with them.

    Maybe Jessican was trained in this in her training program? But I didn't get any specific training on workplans. It was more students asking teachers and everyone has a different way of doing it! So you're just as much an authority on the subject as anyone. :D

    I think the part I'm not sure about is knowing how long it takes (in general) for a child to finish one work. I understand they can decide to work on something all day if they want. But in general, how long does it take? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour? I havn't read anyone's description of this. Knowing this gives me a much better idea whether or not they're choosing enough work for a day.

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    1. Any given work will take a wide variety of lengths of time. Just this morning, I had 2 boys working with a timeline for a full hour - a work I figured would take them about 15-20 minutes. When I moved closer to them to observe, I found them working FAR deeper than they originally planned - they were really analyzing and discussing and synthesizing. So fair game.

      The last 2 boys to work on that particular material - learned from it, enjoyed it, but took just under 20 minutes. They just didn't need to go as deep with it. Fair game there too.

      Both ways are fantastic.

      That is why we really shouldn't be saying "a math, a writing and a reading before doing other work" - or any other way of specifying a particular number of works in any time span. We just don't know how deep a child might go when we LET them (and encourage them).

      My son might spend 3 hours working on one work (with short breaks) - or he might spend 10-30 minutes on several smaller but important-to-him work choices. And that time length can't be entirely planned ahead of time. Some ideas on projects of course of how long something should take at a minimum - it is the maximum that is hard to judge.

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    2. I agree, but only to a certain extent. :D I think it's a mathematical average (or is that median) thing? One could probably say, "for most children I encounter, they typically take 15 min-1 hour for one piece of work, going to 3 hours or multiple days for work that they really want to dig deep. Therefore, on average, each day, they go through 3-8 different work". But we won't say, "Each work they do takes 1 week to finish." There IS a timeframe, it just fluctuates. And that's the average I'm looking for. Maybe an experienced teacher doesn't need this info. But I feel like I need it right now to help myself have a better overview of the flow of the day.

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    3. I wish it were that easy ;) and it has nothing to do with the experience level ;)

      ("work" defined below is any follow-up work, extension, game, exploration, research)

      Any given work in and of itself ranges from a 5 minute experience to something that will take several hours to completion --- those longer works could then be broken up into smaller segments that might be timed with the need for a snack or a bathroom break - or an appointment or simply the need to adjust mental gears for a bit.

      This is where the conversation with the adult comes in during the planning stages. Take any given work that a child would like to do and talk about the stages of it. I have seen children go deep with math that took them half an hour; and children do the same amount of math, but spread over several "blips" over a couple of days with a total accumulation of 45-60 minutes.

      It is really a "guessing" game - and that is where the learning process comes in. The child can start estimating how much they should put on the work plan for a given

      If we had it "right" from the start, there wouldn't be a learning experience for the child. Even us adults sometimes over-plan, or complete our planned tasks sooner than anticipated - so this is entirely a real-life experience for the children.

      One last thought - if we had a guideline for every work ("10 minutes for 1 long division problem" for example), then we are not actually following the child. Any child might take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to do the EXACT same long division problem. So it is not possible to put an average on any given SPECIFIC work, let alone an average across all the experiences available to a child in the Montessori environment.

      :)

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    4. Hmm...that is true. I think we're looking at it from different angles and also probably because we are not quite normalized to work that way yet. Usually when we plan our work for the day, I would like the child to have a realistic goal of how many pieces of "work" they can do. And by work, it's just whatever they piece they choose. So they may decide to work on operations today, then math memorization, work on sight words, etc. We of course don't know how long each will take, and ideally we would allow a child to just go on and on if they find something interesting in the work they're working on.

      But that isn't quite how we're working right now. Using your example, I don't know and she doesn't know how long it'll take for 1 long division problem. And I"m not asking her to know. However, I know it won't take her a lifetime, nor a whole month for one problem. So that said, we know when we plan we will not just plan just choose this one work for the day when we plan. But I also will need to discourage her from choosing 100 "work" when she plans her day. I personally don't think time management works this way and don't want her to have a long todo list for the day. It's how I got into trouble as an adult. So having an idea kind of helps.

      If I were to ask you to observe your child over a one week period and count the average number of work they accomplish during each day, wouldn't you be able to look through their work plan and give me a number? And by work, I just define it as whatever they define as one piece of work in the material of their choosing. So using multiplication with bead frame is one work and doing multiplication with golden beads another work.

      On a side note, how do I get notified of these follow up comments anyway?

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    5. (click the "notify me" box (below the "sign out" button) for notifications)

      To answer your last question: no, I really couldn't. Every week is so totally and completely different. And what he considers one work, I might consider 7, or the opposite. And there is personal research involved as well as the presentations I give; if we have our co-op, presentations and work go different than when it is just my son at home alone.

      Even if I could, it wouldn't help with YOUR child. Each child is different, in a different stage for each area. If anyone tells you how much any given child SHOULD get through in a day or a week - that person is not following Montessori. Over the course of a few months or a year - MAYBE.


      Some thoughts to consider:

      --- this is why we focus on "weekly" work plans when starting. Then each day, select 2-3 items to get started with; then see how time goes.

      --- even BEFORE starting the work plan, start with the work *journal* --- tracking the time it takes to do a particular work will give the child the experience of seeing how long something takes for *that* particular child in *that* particular stage.

      --- use that journal as a conversation starter for the child to plan out his week - might be too much, might not be enough. That is OKAY. We adjust for the following week. Within any given day,

      --- one major learning experience of the work plan is to have these experiences of "judging", then seeing how things follow through.

      --- it might also be that a child intends to do one long division problem, or look up the answer to just one question - then gets SO INTO IT, they want to do more division problems, or that one research question/answer leads to another one or leads to a new resource that is just perfect ----- so we also do things that are not ON the work plan.

      --- the work plan, therefore is not a dictation of "all and only" - but a plan - a guide - a resource

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    6. Comparing to the adult world:
      I might say "household chores" (1 activity) - or I might write out "wash dishes, sweep the kitchen floor, sweep the bathroom floor, vacuum all carpets (or vacuum particular carpets), take out the compost" (and a lot of other detail - several activities) - and plan an hour for all things. (and next time I might list those things differently)
      It might then actually take me only half an hour; or it might take 90 minutes - or more. I find that the hinges on the bathroom cabinet are loose so I tighten them while I am thinking about it. There is something we spilled on the stove that we missed with the last cleaning and it takes longer to clean.
      Perhaps I need to cut some items out because I actually should be getting on with other things - so those items will be pushed off until later today or tomorrow or another day.
      Perhaps a friend stops by and helps me out - or distracts me from doing any of it - but this friend needs my time and ear and heart, so that becomes the priority. Or my child needs me.

      Things happen. And that is life. What we want to do within a Montessori-inspired/influenced/guided homeschool is to focus on living life, with all of its ups and downs and ins and outs.

      The work journal and work plan help us to be responsible with our time, utilizing it as a tool to support life - not living life dictated by it.


      Thus, even a school that expects a "minimum number of works" per day - aren't getting the results they want. They are getting children rushing through something, not really learning, in order to get on with their "real learning" --- or children putzing around, hiding behind a work that takes longer than it should, because they haven't actually learned the skills of time management and planning.

      So to set up a minimum number for the day - sets up a child to fail.
      Set up a child to succeed? "Which of these things do you think you might get to today? I also have something new to show you in geography!" (then follow through - "what did you actually do today - oh! that is interesting, you did less than you thought, but look at what you have discovered/learning/mastered!")


      I am not sure that helps you or not. It can be hard to break out of a pattern, I know!



      And really ----- LET her plan to do 100 works in a day if that is what she thinks she can handle! If she's been keeping a work journal, she should be able to know she can't. But if she tries - she will soon learn!



      One more example:
      As a child I used to make myself to-do lists such as this one:
      Wake-up
      use the bathroom
      eat breakfast
      brush teeth
      wash face
      get dressed
      read 1 chapter of (whatever book I was in the middle of)
      walk to the bus stop
      wait for the bus


      Seriously. I did that. It was kind of pathetic actually, but it helped me to organize my day, learn how to plan --- it is what I personally needed. I VERY quickly learned if I wanted to read before running to the bus stop, I needed to get up earlier. This happened because I figured it out through actual experience. Not because someone told me how long each item would take.

      And most children don't need that level of detail ;) But do you see how "one activity" is defined VERY different at different times by different people in different situations?

      :)

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  5. Being the logical person I am, it helps when I have numbers as a point of reference. I know not to be tied to it but it gives me an idea. So when you say start with 2-3, that helps me. I think if we would let her plan 100 works a day, then they would need to be somehow taught that workplans are work that you choose for the day only. Otherwise it's just an endless todo list, just like adults. And I don't really want endless todo lists.

    And yes on how activities are defined differently. But that's why I'm reading other people's blog. See how they define it, gives me a framework, and then I can see how it might apply or not apply to me. It's kind of like parenting advice people give. One of the answers that always frustrates me is "Every child is different." I know every child is different but there are average behaviors and reading about how other children behave gives me an insight into mine sometimes.

    I feel like I'm looking for background information on observations homeschool teachers have made about their children. Just as Montessori observed children around 4 becoming interested in math. It doesn't mean you're not going to have a child who's interested at 3 or not interested till 5, but it gives me background info on what's observed in someone's homeschool classroom.....Also, I think if you compare the 1st grader vs the 2nd grader vs the 3rd grader, you will see a difference in how they work with their work plans and I'm interesting in finding out that progression.

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    1. Yes, there is s difference in what goes into the work plan from one age to the next; at first, my son's work plan AND journal was moving cards from one basket to another ;) Later, as he started to do more personal writing, he wrote down just the titles of what he actually did; then added the times; then he added in questions or insights he had that didn't have another place to record.

      Looking at the early work journals versus now? I don't see much difference in *pattern* as compared to content. He still loves all things ancient history, but he is spent 4 YEARS studying ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, ancient Israelites, ancient Egyptians, ancient Chinese, minimal on the ancient Native Americans. He would spend weeks doing nothing but study these things ---- now these studies led into various "rabbit trails" such as astronomy, telling time in various formats, etc.

      So - to share (he does like me to share the contents of his work journals - he is really personal about them - but I have permission to share some insights) ---- at 1st/2nd/3rd years of elementary, I see whole WEEKS where he has written nothing but "Ancient Greeks
      language writing different from today - made list of differences
      Greek number changes
      preserving the dead"

      (and that might encompass 2-3 days of work - and that is ALL he did, officially)
      For the record, I am comparing that to current work journals - 4th year and 5th year ---- he does the SAME thing, just different subjects ---- it might be some intense study for a week at a time; then he pulls in other things while continuing that one intense study; then the intensity is dropped for a break or other subjects or a different intensity ------- so still 1 work one day for 6 hours; the next day is 3 works of 2 hours, 1 hour and 15 minutes; etc.)

      Other children - get into ancient history interests much later than he did. Other children get into volcanos way more than he did - his love of all things volcanos focuses primarily on the big explosions, and in practice came out in bits and blips all over the place. Another child will be so focused on volcanos for weeks that dinner time becomes another Pompeii all over again ;)

      Other children might also do a little bit of various interests throughout a day, and repeat each day for several weeks; my son (and other children I know) are much more interest-driven.

      He has other days where 10 subjects are noted - he did great work, he wasn't doing busy work, but he worked through things quickly, learned what HE needed and moved on.

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    2. Allowing a child to choose 100 works, then looking realistically at what was actually done is a GREAT lesson! But again - it is in the *conversation*, not the written work plan, not the work journal - but the conversation. This conversation should be daily at first, then moving into a couple of times throughout the week, then maybe only weekly on an official basis with casual touch-bases here and there as needed.
      ---"So, honey, how did those 100 works go for you?" (child responds)
      ---Probably a bit much for 1 day. Looking at the works you chose, and the works you did, let's consider what might be a more realistic expectation for a similar day? (discussion ensues)

      And again - a child might get into ONE work and that is it for the day (3, 5, 6, 8 hours worth!) - or might do 10-15 works in one day (I can count at least 3 days in 2nd year elementary my son did more than 15 works ---- very short ones --- we were also probably home and I was probably sick or very busy with work orders on those days). It will change from one day to the next.

      I THINK you are trying to get someone to tell you that a child "should do 5 works in a day and if that varies, it is ok, but here is a guideline" --- but that is not the best mindset to get into. I've been down that road myself and it wasn't healthy for me or anyone around me. The Montessori mindset is "What is best for the child? What work choices will prove the most developmentally constructive for THIS child in THIS moment?"

      I think you are also looking for a definition of a work - that simply doesn't exist as a "one definition fits all". Any Montessori experience can be broken down into its components or listed as a overall title (my son could have listed every single resource he studies in a given day and every single note he took from it - or could have just written "Ancient Greeks" - so did he do 1 thing or 10 on that day?)

      Averages are great; but focus on the child at hand, not the numbers ;)



      If you would like to see a sample of an older elementary child's week:
      This page is Friday, but contains links to Monday-Thursday; as well as the original work plan for the week.
      http://montessoritrails.blogspot.com/2015/02/montessori-homeschool-week-february_11.html

      a tag search for "lower elementary" will pull up some of those posts, along with samples of work plans and some work journal samples.



      I hope there is something in there helpful!

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    3. Yes that is helpful to read this description. I think the way your son works is how we humans tend to work when we're interested in something. Something occupies us and draws our attention for a long time and we intensely study it. And why I'm choosing to homeschool. I'm hoping my kids get to do this instead of waiting till they're adults like I was.

      I think what I'm getting from your description is "ask the child questions". And that it is a progression, which is where I'm at. That we're in this transition phase of no planning to workplan planning and I need a middle step, maybe not for the child but for myself. Also that as an adult I had to learn about time management, which technically isn't really defined in montessori writing right? And I find the workplan model lacking a bit in that respect. I have not read what the end goal/direct aim is yet, a defined list of soft skills kids are learning. But maybe if you really follow the model the time management piece magically falls into place. However, I have not read blogs of grown Montessori-educated kids so I wouldn't know.

      I'm more asking someone to tell me, "My child sometimes does 1 work a day for the 3 hour work period, or 10-15 really short work. When they're not normalized, they tend to flit from one activity to another, when they are, they follow the classic observed 3 hour work period activity level." That totally helps. I'm not asking what the child SHOULD do, just what other people's children ARE doing. I unfortunately cannot observe other homeschools otherwise it would give me a really good idea of what a normalized homeschool classroom looks like. I've seen some normalized, some un-normalized montessori schools and after visiting that many, you see a pattern of how children behave. And that really helped me. Because I'd had this idea from reading the Montessori books that children would just work for 3 hours when they're normalized.. (Don't ask me where I got that idea). But seeing children in a classroom made me realize that is not the case. That children have short attention spans, esp the younger they are, unless there is an activity that matches what they need in development.

      I'm also not asking for definition of work. I tend to this any work a child is focused on is work.

      Thanks for patiently answering my questions. It took me several replies to figure out what exactly I'm actually asking.

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    4. Thank you Jessica for piping up here! You totally gave more in the way of well founded advice than I could ever give.

      Guavarama--I think I am like you, I like numbers, averages, guidelines, benchmarks, context...but I find when I juxtapose these things with Montessori theory, these predispositions severely limit me and the directives and guidance I give is no longer Montessori-inspired. I know the same goes for certified trained Montessori teachers too. They see lots of children. They could perhaps pin-point some kind of average, but this may not help the child they are seeking to help. I remember having a "what am I observing" conversation with S's old Montessori teacher about just this. Years of experience and observation didn't prepare this teacher to know how to deal with this child's unique needs. Perhaps her experience enabled her to know that something was up.

      One of the topics I have such a difficult time understanding is how to apply Montessori theory in my homeschool classroom. I haven't been through a certified guide training program. I have taken a couple of courses and read a lot, but I have never interned in a classroom 3-5 hours a day 5 days a week, for 9 months. And then I've never before had to be the first to successfully adapt Montessori's theories she developed in a classroom of 40+ to a classroom of 3 children who have the personalities my children have. What children can do in a Montessori classroom isn't possible in a small homeschool classroom. I believe some Montessori theory applied in a thoughtful way in my home is better than our educational alternatives.

      You mention you are training on your blog, are you taking a Montessori training course right now? I think it is terrific that you are teaching your children in Mandarin! How wonderful it is that they will gain fluency in 2 languages.

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  6. You're right of course. Usually any advice our trainers give is always given with the, "but i havn't observed the child so this is the advice I can give based on what you said." And yet often it's helpful. :D I think there is a wealth of knowledge trainers have that they don't know they have because it's been a long time since they've been new teachers. There's also a wealth of knowledge they have just hanging out with different kinds of kids all day.

    But yes, I agree completely with what you said about adapting practice of classroom of 40 kids to 3. Speaking of your kids, you had made a post the other day about the personality of your kids and I had wanted to say that my two were kind of like your oldest two. One is creative, needs things to be kept interesting, doesn't like math as much as the cultural subjects, loves to ask why. The other is mathematically inclined. And it's neat watching what they gravitate to in their work.

    I'm getting training. I"m mostly done with 3-6 and half way done with 6-12. But I didn't even know there is such a difference between AMS and AMI albums till I started reading homeschooling blogs. And I"m also starting to realize that difference between classroom and homeschooling environments, which makes some of the advice my trainers give me, not quite applicable.

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    1. If you don't mind my inquiring, which training course(s) did you choose? You must certainly be so very busy taking two courses at once while homeschooling your two children!

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    2. My albums basically look almost exactly like Cultivating Dharma's. I'm only taking math. first year I took 3 primary courses. kind of crazy. But now I'm just doing one at a time. I looked at Jessica's TOC and sample math. Hers are definitely a bit different than mine.

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