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The Montessori Classroom
The classrooms at Hammond are organised and supplied with materials to match the interests of the children. While each classroom has all the equipment that would be contained in a traditional classroom, it also has materials that are specially designed for students in the Montessori program.No two Montessori classrooms follow the same routine. Most teachers develop new materials themselves and adapt other educational equipment to the Montessori classroom. Teachers enrich the classroom environment by utilizing equipment in a way that supports the Montessori principles of learning.
The Montessori Teachers
The Montessori teachers at Hammond have undergone a training program that enables them to provide a Montessori style of education. This is in addition to the regular teacher training and professional development programs that have earned them provincial certification as teachers. Without provincial certification in the form of a Standard or a Professional Teaching Certificate, teachers would not be eligible to teach in School District No. 42.
Multi Aged Groupings
Multi aged classrooms have been commonplace in the B.C.public school system for years. They are not unique to the Montessori program.For classrooms to be challenging they must provoke a learning response. Opportunities must be available from a wide variety of graded materials and situations. Children will develop as their interests and challenges move from one level of complexity to the next. Older students are given opportunities to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones.Having children in multi aged settings also provides opportunities and models for leadership and positive imitation.
Different Rates of Learning
The use of individual or modified programs and materials allows for a varied pace of learning that accommodates many levels of ability in the classroom. Children mature at different rates and their periods of readiness for learning concepts vary. A child who is having more difficulty understanding a concept is allowed extra time for that understanding to develop. Advanced children, on the other hand, may proceed with learning materials, hopefully avoiding boredom while waiting for other members of the class to catch up. Although many children accept the challenges of learning with excitement, not all children embrace the necessary effort that is required to achieve success or mastery. Expectations at Hammond are high and encouragement from both the home and the school is sometimes necessary for a child to show the desired progress.If a child is unable to attain the widely held standards for children in the same age grouping, additional help in the form of learning assistance or support may be necessary and is available.
Like any classroom at Hammond there is always a busy hum of activity when there is a group of children working. Because of the materials and the style of learning that is taking place there are many activities taking place. All activities are guided by one concept - respect.Understanding children's behaviour is an essential component of the Hammond Student Management Policy.
The aims of of the policy are:
- To create an environment in which children can exercise their right to learn, without interruption.
- To assist children to make responsible choices about their behaviour and to accept the consequences of those choices.
- To implement an approach to behavioural problems which is consistent throughout the school and is understood by the total school community.
- To create a positive, non-adversarial climate within which children, teachers, and parents can work together to help children solve their problems in a creative, supportive, and non-threatening manner.
The Policy is based on the Reality Therapy and Control Theory as presented by Dr. William Glasser. Additional information about student management at Hammond is available in the form of a policy. This may be obtained from the school.
Montessori and the B.C. Curriculum
In recent years the curricula in all subject areas has been reviewed and updated in the B.C. public schools System. Each teacher uses an Integrated Resource Package which provides some of the basic information that teachers will require to implement the curriculum. The provincially prescribed curriculum is structured in a variety of categories.
Prescribed Learning Outcomes are content standards for the provincial education system. Learning outcomes set out the knowledge, enduring ideas, issues, concepts, skills, and attitudes for each subject. They are statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do in each grade.Suggested Instructional Strategies involves the use of techniques, activities, and methods that can be employed to meet diverse student needs and to deliver the prescribed curriculum. Teachers are free to adapt the suggested instructional strategies or substitute others that will enable their students to achieve the prescribed outcomes.
Suggested Assessment Strategies suggest a variety of ways to gather information about student performance. Some assessment strategies relate to specific activities; others are general.
Provincially Recommended Learning Resources are materials that are in addition to the Montessori materials that can be found in each class. They have been reviewed and evaluated by British Columbia teachers in collaboration with the Ministry of Education according to a stringent set of criteria.
Reporting to Parents
Provincial regulations for the reporting of student progress require that parents be provided with a minimum of three formal written reports and two informal written reports each school year.
Comments in student progress reports describe, in relation to curriculum:
- what the student is able to do;
- areas of learning that require further attention or development;
- ways the teacher is supporting the student's learning needs (and, where appropriate, ways the student or parents might support the learning.)
Criterion referenced letter grades in grades 4 to 12 indicate student's levels of performance as they relate to the expected learning outcomes set out in the provincial curricula. Letter grades are not required for grades Kindergarten to grade 3.
Parents with children in the Montessori Program at the Intermediate level are asked for input to determine if they would like their children to receive letter grades on their reports. Regardless, the school must record student progress, using letter grades on the Ministry of Education, Permanent Student Record Cards, for students from grade 4 up.
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