NMS delegation posed with a friend at the American Montessori Society Conference in Denver, March 2018.
Each year, thanks to the generosity of NMS Annual Fund contributors, our school has the opportunity to send a group of at least 4 teachers to the national conference of the American Montessori Society (AMS). This year, the participants were (above, from left to right): Lisa Levine (Lower Elementary 1 Teacher), Elyse Kalins (Beginners 2 Teacher), Katie Quann (Music Specialist), Beth Black (NMS Head of School), Neus Carmona (Beginners 1 Teacher), and Michael Silverstone (Lower Elementary 2 Teacher).
This trip serves NMS on a number of levels: students benefit from attendees’ professional growth as they exchange new ideas and strategies to implement in the classroom; the school participates in a nation-wide network of accredited Montessori institutions; and attendees share a unique experience that strengthens their camaraderie and collaboration as educators.
Building Professional Capacity
The act of staff taking part in a conference helps convey our school’s commitment to the advancement of Montessori education. The opportunity to take part in the conference supports staff in establishing or deepening their roles as professionals in the Montessori community. They become aware of opportunities to conduct and share research, serve on professional committees, present or publish their findings, and lay the groundwork for future participation at the national level.
Michael presented some of his research on: “The Recruitment, Support and Retention of Male Montessori Faculty: A consideration of causes, effects, and strategies to constructively address the underrepresentation of men in the teaching ranks”.
Last year in San Diego, Krissy Canastar (NMS Diversity Coordinator and Drama Specialist) and Ruth Clifford (Upper Elementary Teacher) gave a presentation about anti-bias education practices at our school and beyond. This year in Denver, Michael Silverstone presented his research on removing obstacles to diversity, a project he conducted as a member of AMS’s inaugural cohort of its Emerging Leaders Fellowship.
The inaugural cohort of AMS's Emerging Leaders Fellowship collectively presented a series of “Hot Button Montessori Roundtables”.
As Beth Black notes, the traveling and working together is also an investment towards advancing teamwork and trust for the long term. “Sending a team rather than an individual has additional benefits because teachers from different divisions get to enjoy one another’s company while traveling, which builds trust and opportunities for collaboration later,” she explained.
NMS conference attendees participated in School Spirit Week from afar, wearing silly socks for Confidence Day!
Highlights and Takeaways
“The most valuable experience I had was being surrounded by like-minded individuals as a whole. It was really inspiring to see presenters talk about their passions. It was also amazing to spend so much time with colleagues to learn more about them as people, but also brainstorm ideas to help make our program at NMS even better. One takeaway for me was how to approach our community service and service learning to make it the most meaningful for our students.”
Katie Quann and Neus Carmona stood tall with the iconic Pink Tower material.
“I sincerely had the most amazing time at the AMS conference in Denver. I got myself involved in an environment full of new learning opportunities from a wide range of people and places. I learned from the keynote speakers and the AMS workshops without forgetting the great opportunity to learn from our lovely coworkers. These few days I engaged in matter-of-fact conversations about acclimating new staff to the Montessori philosophy and how to build a mentorship program at NMS. The keynote speaker Anna Deavere Smith inspired me profoundly while talking about how a school’s culture makes a difference in the lives of young people. During the workshops, I focused my attention to learn about new ways to introduce math in the toddler classroom as well as learning from Frank Leto’s new and exciting songs for circle time. I attended a workshop that focused on creating parent-children communities and how to better design toddler environments that suit their needs. I felt a special connection with my inner Montessorian and the joy of what we do, and how we follow this philosophy, enhancing the lives of the children that we have in our care.”
Outside of conference workshops, attendees explored Denver and enjoyed each other’s company.