Monday, June 25, 2012


What do you choose to do with your time?  I like to mow the yard on the weekend, lay in the hammock and play with the kiddos.  My wife likes to clean the house (weird, I know).  My oldest daughter, right now, loves to ride her bicycle, play school and put on dance recitals.  My son, he loves to be a boy - dig in the dirt, wrestle, water the yard, mow the yard…  My youngest daughter who happens to be 7 weeks old, well she loves to sleep, eat and just hang out.

It is amazing how motivated we are when we have choices.  When I am asked to do something and have choices on how I can do it, I am more likely to do it the way I want and am more likely to do a better job when I have choices.  Think of our students.  When we ask students to do something, how often do we give them choices?  Are we giving them choices along the way to give them a sense of ownership?

Often times, if we give students choices along the way they will be more motivated and more engaged in the process.  If we are focusing on the process of learning and not necessarily the end product, the choices along the way will lead students down different paths.  It is important for us to be comfortable as teachers to allow our students to have choices in their learning.  Whether it be in their cognitive learning, gross motor learning, fine motor learning, social/emotional learning, giving students choices for learning will further their engagement and their motivation to learn.

One of the core Montessori tenants revolves around choice.  Children are able to choose their work and do their work as long as their interest and focus is there.  That is so powerful but the choices we offer can go beyond work.

What choices will you give your kids today?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday Memo

This past week, I started a Monday Memo (thanks to @PrincipalJ and @teachingwthsoul for the ideas).  I want to highlight the great things that are happening each week at our school while reinforcing best practices to our teachers.  I always think a little public praise helps :-)

How do you spell T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?
Each week, I will try to highlight a few of the many wonderful things I notice while I am out and about in the classrooms, outside on the play areas, or in the hall.  These are just a few of the many wonderful things that occurred last week at Innovation Kids.  Thank you for engaging in the best practices and doing what it best for each other and the children!
T is for Trusting
Emily, Toddler B float teacher, allows her children to trust her. She is patient, kind and the children trust her.  I noticed this past week when I was in the classrooms that Emily was helping instill responsibility in her children.  She encouraged the ducklings to take care of the classroom and one another.  There was some trash on the floor and Emily encouraged her friend to help keep the room clean by using a positive, soft tone.  Regardless of a new challenge, her children trust her and will do what she asks (as much as an 18 month old will listen J).  Emily always uses kind words, has a caring smile, and encourages every child to continue to grow and learn.
E is for Enthusiastic
Sara, Belugas teacher, is full of enthusiasm.  Simply walk into the Belugas classroom and you will notice that she is always smiling, laughing and enthusiastic about her day.  She is enthusiastic about all her children’s learning as well as her own learning.  Whether she is buggying around, changing diapers, feeding children, or playing with the Belugas, Sara is enthusiastic in everything she does.
A is for Amazing
Sakinah, Toddler A float, has a sense of calmness about her.  She is amazing in that, no matter the issue or dilemma, from a biting incident to broken heart, Sakinah always keeps her cool. Her kind, caring demeanor allows her to be loved by all. The other day as I was walking around, I noticed that Sakinah was outside on the playground, moving around and interacting with the children.  She was taking the time to play with the children and getting to know them on a different level – a characteristic of what amazing teachers do!   
C is for Charisma
You know those people who appear in your life and -- no matter what they say or do -- everyone loves them? That is Becky, Ladybugs teacher.  She is beloved by all her children for her firm, fair and consistent manner.  She has amazing charisma and can keep her children engaged for what seems like hours (which is no small task when working with two year olds).  Her genuine caring for her students, teachers, parents and school community has won the hearts of many.  I observed two ladybugs disagreeing over the dinosaurs last week (I know, disagreeing never happens with two year olds J) and she calmly reminded them to use their words.  She never once raised her voice but helped them work out the disagreement between them in a respectful, nurturing way!  The most powerful part was a few minutes later, one of the children had another disagreement over the dinosaurs and he was able to solve the problem all on his own!  Kuddos to Becky and allowing her students to be problem solvers with just the right amount of guidance!
 H is for Helpful
Dolores, part-time teacher, is a wonderful example of a person who is helpful.  Dolores comes in each and every morning and is a great help to everyone.  There are times when classrooms can cover their own breaks and we don’t need a part-time teacher in those classrooms.  Dolores is always the first one approached to move and she always does so with a smile!  She even mentioned to me this past week that although she loves the babies, she has enjoyed being with the summer program, preprimary and primary students.  Dolores epitomizes the true definition of a helping hand.   

E is for Extraordinary
Andrea, “combo” float teacher, puts the E in extraordinary. Andrea works with three different classrooms in three different units (Crocodiles, Llamas and Zebras).  Each classroom has its own personality, challenges and rewards.  Andrea is able to connect to each set of children (Toddler A, Preprimary and Primary) in a way that demonstrates extraordinary brilliance. When I see her interact with the children, I am always in awe of her teaching and passionate spirit and her ability to “switch” from unit to unit with grace, determination, and drive.   This past week, it was fantastic to see how Andrea gives very specific and timely feedback.  Instead of just saying “good job”, Andrea is very deliberate with her feedback. For instance, I overheard her say “I really like how you cleaned off your plate.  You scraped off all your food into the trash can.  Thank you for taking the time to scrape your food off.”  What great feedback!
R is for Resonate
Amy, Elephants Teacher, has a passion for Montessori philosophy and methodology.  She has completed her Montessori Certification through NCME (the National Center for Montessori Education). Her manner of teaching with Montessori’s phiolosphy and her message of grace and courtesy always resonates with her students. I love popping into the Elephant classroom and seeing her steadfast commitment to living a life filled with seeking her passion and teaching the children to find their own passion for learning.  This past week, I saw her talking with a child and discussing the importance of being courteous to our friends and taking turns.   

That is a terrific way to spell TEACHER!  Thank you Emily, Sara, Sakinah, Becky, Dolores, Andrea and Amy!