Montessori Guides assist in the development of the whole child. In the Montessori learning environment, the guide is trained to observe. Guides look at how each child progresses academically, but also socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The end goal of a Montessori education is for all children to be independent and reach their full potentials.
It is through daily observation, check-ins, extension works, and research that guides are able to assess curricular knowledge. Additionally, in the cooperative Montessori learning environment, children gain social skills as well as experience a close-knit community. Through “grace and courtesy” lessons, children are held to clear behavioral expectations and with the movement allowed in the environments, they learn to be responsible with their freedoms. The Guide is attentive in helping foster all these aspects of a child’s development.
At The Way of the Shepherd, guides help children recognize and build on their interests and broaden their understanding of the world. Guides watch for key moments of learning when children demonstrate the higher level thinking skills of synthesis, analysis, and comparison. Montessori guides collect and record data from many different sources, analyze it, record it, observe, make changes, and observe some more to witness how these changes affect a child’s academic growth. Learning targets are personalized and tailored to every individual. Each child is given challenges at his or her level, every child connects with the teacher, and every child learns, everyday.
Guides and children work together in the learning process. Children get to know their individual strengths, challenges, and passions. Making mistakes and learning from them is encouraged and honored in a Montessori environment. Tools are given by the teacher and by peers to make learning possible. With a spiraling curriculum that allows children to revisit concepts each year, children go deeper into subject area topics and foster a strong work ethic and a true love of learning.
|Observation||Assess knowledge, interests, strengths, and weaknesses|
|Intake Forms||Understand early child development and developmental needs and milestones of every child we serve|
|Self-Assessments||Children can assess their own knowledge, questions, interests, strengths, and weaknesses|
|1:1 Meetings with Children||Gauge learning, set learning goals, give tools to assist learning|
|Pre-Assessment Before a Presentation||Questioning children about prior knowledge and knowledge/skills retained|
|Follow-Up Work (Writing Journal, Academic Journal)||Written extensions that help the child to gain and synthesize new information and skills|
|Work Journal||Child demonstrates accountability for setting learning goals and working toward achievement|
|Projects and Presentations||Children demonstrate depth of knowledge and make interdisciplinary connections through a “big work” or presentation to group of children.|
|End of the Lesson Check-In||In the moment check for understanding before children leave a lesson and begin working on extensions|
|NWEA MAP Assessment||Comprehensive formative and summative assessment that provides data on each student, class, and the school as a whole in the areas of Language, Reading, and Mathematics. Assessment is given 2-3 times a year to ensure adequate yearly growth occurs.|
Children are assessed for skills in an ongoing manner, but parents and guardians receive an official report of progress three times a year, at the end of each trimester. Guides complete a summative assessment using a criterion-based report assessing the child’s progress and growth in all areas of development (social, academic, religious, and emotional wellbeing). These trimester reports are utilized for all 3 years so that parents and educators can observe the child’s growth over time. Additionally, teacher-parent conferences are held two times a year at the end of trimesters one and two.
Role of Testing
The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School Staff realize that standardized testing is just one of many ways teachers and parents witness our children gaining knowledge and skills. The data from the tests help improve teacher performance as well as identify any gaps in the curriculum and potential areas for growth in student performance. Our staff knows that these tests do not measure intelligence, effort, or ability. Rather than comparing our students against others, teachers encourage children to challenge themselves. The goal is to help children own their learning struggles and successes without the desire for outside praise or approval. In this way the child will be encouraged to continue learning as an extension of self-improvement rather than competition. Success, therefore, is measured in the progress children make over their course of studies.
A double blind research study found that children in Montessori programs:
- Significantly out-perform peers in math and science skills
- Have superior performance at age 5 on measurements of reading and mathematical thinking skills
- Demonstrate superior executive functioning at age 5
- Demonstrate more positive peer interaction at age 12
- Demonstrate better social cognition at age 12
- Employ greater justice reasoning in social problem solving at age 12
- Adapted from: Angeline Lillard. “Evaluating Montessori Education.” Science. 29 Sept 2016.