LMS Attends the Annual Conference of the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts

By Biff Maier, Director of Faculty & Curriculum Development
Last weekend some of our teachers and administrators joined 450 other Montessori folks at the annual conference of the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts, a regional organization of Montessori schools. Dean College turned over their Campus Center to us for a day of professional development. The keynote speaker for the event was clinical psychologist Sarah Ward, Co-Director of Cognitive Connections, where she specializes in the assessment and treatment of executive function deficits. Sarah captivated her audience with anecdotes. We all gained a deeper appreciation of the challenges that so many of our children face, and we carried away strategies that will help.
Ms. Ward explained that many planning problems are caused by the inability to visualize success and the failure to envision an “amount” of time. She urged us to help children by, for example, drawing time spans on clocks to understand the “sweep of time” for a task and to give them visuals of what a finished report or project might look like. She suggested photographing a child when she is truly “ready” for school so that the photo can be used as a reference for readiness in the future. The same can be done to create a reference for an “organized shelf,” or a “clean” bedroom!
Following the keynote were a lineup of workshops. LMS Upper Elementary teachers, Seth Johnson and Laini Szostkowski collaborated with me to present the rationale and strategies we are using to help students with self-regulation in our classrooms. We drew on the work of several scholars in this field to offer a model that defines our goal of self-regulation as “the planful, flexible pursuit of goals that promotes individual growth and free and full participation of everyone in the life of the community, including having a say in the decisions that affect them.” We explored how individuals build themselves in the context of their interactions in a conscious community. We think this is a rich and important topic for the Montessori community, and we hope to present it again at the American Montessori Society national conference in 2015.
During the second set of workshops, Julia Modigliani, our literacy specialist, joined nine learning specialists and others from area Montessori schools for a roundtable discussion and critique of various program models being used. Meanwhile, Seth and I learned about East Hill Farm School, a working farm that welcomes groups of students for a down-and-dirty farming experience. Aline attended a workshop about small school fundraising.
The annual MSM conference is an important time for us to meet and think with our colleagues from other Montessori schools in New England. It is also an opportunity to visit an exhibit area to see new products that have been developed by Montessori-oriented venders.

Second in a Series of Parent Led Conversations with and for Parents:

The most recent Parent Conversation, How Much is too Much?, focused primarily on the use and exposure of technology by and with children. The discussion was facilitated by LMS parent Valerie Overton and parents of a wide range of children participated.
Comments and questions included topics such as the balance of screen time and strategies around it, social media and both its positive and negative impacts, information available via the internet for better or worse, and the sharing of some lessons learned by parents of older children. 
The take-away from the conversation is this: Technology is here to stay. Parents need to look at each of their children indivdually when it comes to their use of technology, and it is our responsibility as parents to stay on top of our awareness of what is available in this ever and quickly changing media. 
Related Reading and Resources:  Internet_Safety_Resources 2.pdf


Change a Light, Change the World

The Middle School is selling energy-efficient lightbulbs to support our trip to Puerto Rico in February. Middle School students have visited all of the classes and given your child an order form. Bulbs are reasonably priced, and 100% of the money goes to LMS, thanks to an NSTAR grant.
Feel free to sell some products to friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues. Many students were excited about the prizes, which they can earn even by selling just one lightbulb. Prizes include a book light, water bottle, gift card to Barnes and Noble, or even a portable speaker system.
As we told the children, there are three great things about selling some lightbulbs:
  1. Help raise money for Middle School trips
  2. Win some really cool prizes
  3. Help your family and friends to use less energy--it's good for the earth!
Forms are due in two weeks, on January 31. If you need another form, send your child over to the Middle School—we have some extras. (Don’t worry, we don’t bite!)
Lexington Montessori School | 130 Pleasant Street | Lexington, MA 02421