Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Teacher: Jen Prescott
Grade: Fourth and fifth
School: Walden Green Montessori
What makes your classroom special? The children in my classroom are what make it special. They are independent, hard working, creative, empathetic, inclusive, funny, and incredibly sweet. I have worked really hard to create a peaceful, collaborative, and supportive community. The students know exactly what to expect from me and from each other. We are like a family: supportive, encouraging, a place where students can make mistakes and feel safe and secure. We focus a great deal on emotional growth.
Procedures are practiced a lot at the beginning of the year, so that classroom management issues are kept to a minimum. Everyone feels safe and is encouraged to learn at their own pace.
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? To have a growth mindset in all situations, not just at school. A growth mindset requires a positive attitude: so that intelligence can be developed, to stay focused on the process, not the outcome, and to take the time to create beauty in learning at your own pace.
The growth mindset meshes very well with Montessori principles: movement within the classroom, choices within boundaries, working within and at their interest level, intrinsic motivation is fostered, learning with and from peers, fostering a curiosity to learn in the student’s own manner, order in environment and mind, virtues, grace, courtesy, and character building are explicitly taught, and the teacher is a guide.
What special project is your classroom working on now? The students and I are writing a grant called the “Mudita Gift” through Extended Grace to fund an art program for students at the Nayamba school in Zambia. My students also noticed on the school’s wishlist, that they wanted soccer balls and outside play equipment. My class suggested a pop can fundraiser to raise the additional funds needed They are also creating a slideshow to show the students at the Nayamba school what Walden Green is all about. My goal is for them to create a sense of unity, even though we are continents apart. Montessori teaches that we are citizens of the planet; interaction with the school in Zambia exemplifies this.
How is your classroom involved with the community? We walked to Oak Crest Manor and sang Christmas carols to them and delivered handmade Christmas cards We bring speakers in from the community. We take regular field trips into the community: to widen our world view, appreciate other cultures, experience life outside the classroom, learn, and practice grace and courtesy
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? My hope is that they take pride in their work, no matter what level they are in, and that they leave with a feeling of capability to tackle anything that comes their way with self confidence. I also hope they take with them the conflict resolution, problem solving skills, grace, and courtesy that they have learned, along with the curiosity to fuel lifelong learning.