Tag Archives: relationships

The Making of INNOVATION

The making of the 90 second short clip on INNOVATION featuring Megan Nordoff as a Top 10 Finalist has everyone around here with a new respect for those in the film industry.  The experience of helping Ms. Megan articulate her message of innovation has proven insightful- there is so much more to the person then meets the eye.

Reading is personal. With support, especially with a trusted guide, the ability to read and write unfolds.

As we walked the facilities together after learning about Megan reaching the Top 10, we reflected on her many contributions to our school community, the children in her care, and our extended community members.   Passing by the tangible evidence of innovation in the classroom, I would ask Megan- HOW DID THIS BECOME PART OF THE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT?

Here’s a little bit on what she shared with me along our walk.

Plays orchestrated by the Kindergarteners speak volumes in reinforcing cultural values.
Walking the Circumference
Each winter we cut tipi poles, raise and experience the Plains Tipi absorbing it with all of our senses.
We eat bananas every day and have tied it into the curriclum.
Morning snack and ratios

And there’s still more to discover happening under Megan’s guidance each day…

A yurt provides a quiet place for individual reflection
A yurt provides a quiet place for individual reflection
Circuits light up bulbs and imagination
Seed to Table
Ks harvest and bring to market
Reggio Rug
All contribute to our new rug
Ecology Center
Ecology and Language Arts
Organic gardening and CSA
Mentors guide student and teacher
Marsh Ecology
Cleaning up our natural resources
Upcycle golf ball math extension
Upcycle golf ball math extension

Midway through our walk and a little overwhelmed I paused, “Megan,” I asked again, “Where do you begin? How did this all become part of the classroom experience?”

Upon a moment’s reflection, she replied, “I’m not the innovator.  The child is.  I’ve never really considered myself an innovator just another tool facilitating the innovation waiting to be birthed inside each individual student.  I am only able to do so in preparing myself and in understanding the many relationships we share with our world and with others and in following the child to prepare his environment for his own discovery.”

What's next...
What’s next…

Find out what Megan has planned for her next innovation connecting and building relationships between farms and other schools within our community.  Vote today and every day to push Ms. Megan’s innovative ideas forward.  Here’s the link:http://kto6gato.maker.good.is/projects/7752

GOOD Magazine chooses Ms. Megan!

Ms. Megan makes the TOP TEN GATO finalist as a nationally recognized innovator in the classroom! The formal announcement and voting begins March 4th. http://www.good.is/great-american-teach-off
We are excited to announce that Megan Nordoff, of Montessori of Mount Pleasant, has been selected as a finalist for GOOD Magazine’s Innovative Teacher Award.  You already know Ms. Megan’s commitment advocating for innovation during the first stage of development and her support in ensuring that children reach their fullest potential across all planes of development.  We now have an opportunity to share our work on a larger platform- and we are asking for your help.
If you aren’t already a fan, please LIKE our page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Montessori-School-of-Mount-Pleasant/121505131043?fref=ts
We’ll be making announcement regarding voting and updates on Megan’s status via this social media outlet.  We will also send out general information via email and Google Group.
Why VOTE (each day, and every day) –
* An opportunity to feature South Carolina as an INNOVATOR in the field of education
* Highlight progressive models of education including MONTESSORI, RIE (www.rie.org), ORTON GILLINGHAM, Richard Louv’s Nature Education, Slow Food, Agriculture and Gardening to early literacy, Reggio inspired environments and more!
* Bring a national spotlight on the work being done at the EARLY CHILDHOOD level (birth – six years) and the impact a quality early childhood experience has on school readiness and innovation at Kindergarten
* Show the nation that there’s more to the Charleston community then a happening tourist destination- it’s a wonderful place to live and raise your children!
What will we do if we win the 10K grant?
We have an idea concept in place for a MOBILE FARM CLASSROOM modeled after the Montessori (Grammar) Farm built to a Tiny House scale.  The 10K will get this project off the ground.  It is our intent to build “sister-school” relationships outside the walls of our facility and extend the mobile farm classroom to other South Carolinian schools.  If you are interested in participating as a sponsor with the design of this GOODInnovation Idea, we are very happy to welcome your efforts and contributions.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Relationship Matters: Table Manners

I was inspired by a recent email exchange between our Head of School, Megan Nordoff, and a parent of a child enrolled in the Primary Community of MMPSchool. 

Hi Bev and John,
Thought I’d take a minute today to pass along some tidbits from this
week with Marcus.  He’s been very cheerful this week starting with
early Monday morning relaying to us that he went camping and slept on
the top.  He was excited that we had oranges for snack and asked if
they were his oranges from his birthday.  I told him Ms. Nicole
brought them from Florida- he ate 3!  He also said that his Pops is
in Florida.  Late he and a friend did the number rods together,
quantity and symbol 1-5.
On Tuesday, he recognized 4 on the clock and exclaimed, “I am 4!”
and then asked “Am I 4?” to which I let him know “Yes, you will be 4
for a year and then turn 5.”  He looked absolutely flabbergasted!  🙂
He worked with a friend for a little while matching beginning sounds
of objects to the right letter and then went off to climb.  He had to
wait his turn as another friend wanted to climb alone on the
structure.  Ms. Amy reminded him to wait upon the other friend’s
request and he was a little tiffed at Amy for about a minute (arms
crossed and eyebrows furrowed).  He came over to me and showed me her
face.  I asked him if he wanted to tell me something.  He told me
Ms. Amy wouldn’t let him climb.  I reiterated that he could climb
after the friend was finished- she wanted to be alone on the structure
to concentrate on balancing.   He relaxed, got busy with something
else and eventually went back to climbing later.Hope you are having a nice day and hope this sort of info is helpful
to you at home and in communication with the OT.MeganP.S. He was so excited today that he was able to hang his purple
jacket on the coat rack with no help at all!

Thank you so very much for this feedback. This is so helpful exactly what we need and truly appreciate your time, courtesy and attention.Please continue to send these updates. We meet with the OT & ST on Weds. mornings.You mentioned on our conference that Marcus often has trouble staying seated at mealtimes. We consistently have the same behavior at home. When you have a moment, could you tell me how you “scaffold” with him in these situations? I want to be consistent with your methods.He seems to be having so much fun at school this week.Thank you for your continuing communication.With our best,
bev & john

Sent from my iPhone

Montessori Snack
Montessori Snack
Hi Bev,

At school he stays seated but if he gets up to get something or go to the bathroom he can get sidetracked not come back with prompting.  Meal times can be difficult because they are sensory-rich so keep this in mind and try to see it from his perspective when you set your expectations.  I would take a look at environmental details first:
* he should be seated comfortably, waist at the table with bare feet touching a surface is optimal
* soft lighting (stay away from fluorescent)
* background music can be a disturbance
* visual distractions on table? keep it as simple as possible
* consistency wherever possible: dishes, sequence, seating arrangement
* timing of meal: is he hungry when you sit down?  after school snacks? is he starting to get tired?
* length of meal?  adults will prefer to sit longer….at lunch he sits for about 20 minutes
* food being served
* his buy in: has he been able to contribute to the meal/experience?
* expectations?  before, during, after?  clear his own dishes, etc.
* conversation: is it pleasant for him?
At school he is expected to take his dishes and scrape and wash his plate after he is finished.  This marks the end of the meal and the child does not return to the table to continue eating after this.  As they master caring for their own dishes then their desire to help expands to assisting with clearing the table and cleaning up the whole room for the next part of the day.   We are currently scaffolding Marcus with staying on task and completing the transition from getting up from the table, scraping, washing and leaving the sink.  He doesn’t complain about it but can get distracted and wanders away before finishing.
Just be sure that whatever limits you set that you’re prepared to stick with and follow through.  At the end of the day it is usually better to lower the expectations slightly since everyone is tired- otherwise you won’t be able to stay consistent on a daily basis.

Thank you for this, Megan! 
I followed your advice at breakfast & it went (almost 😉 very smoothly.
Very helpful.
Hi Bev,
I’ve been meaning to ask you.  I think this question from you regarding meal time is a pretty common one.  Would you be ok if I changed the names and shared it with others via our BLOG?

Of course!Sent from my iPhone

Relationship Matters: This old hoe

“What is that?” Nicholas peered over at the tool in my hands.

Glancing down, I automatically replied, “It’s called a ‘hoe’  and then I found myself taken aback.  For the first time, I think I actually looked at the instrument held in my hands.  It’s simple beauty struck me.

“It was my grandfathers,” I continued.  I remembered grabbing it from a Florida garage some time after his death as a tangible connection to the person who helped raise me as a young child.      After beginning its life on farm in Ohio, the hoe now worked with me on a  small school garden field.   Today five year old Nicholas catches a glimpse of it for the first time-   I’m sure my own father at the same age shared an intimate relationship with the hoe as a contributing member of life on a farm.

Primary Garden CSA

“It’s very old,” I smiled meeting Nicholas’s eyes.  “If my grandfather was alive today he would be one hundred and eleven years old.”

“How old was he when he died?” Nicholas inquired.

“95.  He was pretty old when he died.”

“My grandfather was 71.  He died two years ago.”  Nicholas continued to hold my gaze.  Taking a break, we sat down on the picnic table sipping from our water bottles.

“That’s pretty young.” I mused out loud, ” My dad just turned 70.”

“My grandma is 74.”  Then Nicholas turned to me and said,

“So your grandfather died 17 years ago.”  For the second time I found myself taken aback.  And using my fingers to double check his math, confirmed, “Ah ha…”

Our conversation continued as we swapped grandparent stories and gradually returned to our garden.  I picked up my grandfather’s old hoe and put it back to work while Nicholas gathered the upturned weeds left in its wake.  Together we grew silent concentrating on our individual tasks at hand.

“What a genius.”  I thought-  still not knowing if in reference to Nicholas, Maria Montessori, or nature itself.

A Year in the Life of a Kindergartener

Graduation season turns our thoughts on those members of our community who will be leaving our daily school lives, our Kindergarteners.  The group, many of whom began their relationships together at infancy, are six years old and considered elders in a school that focuses on the first developmental plane.

As their journey with us closes, we reflect back on the moments we shared.

You started your life with us- what an honor and a pleasure.  Thank you!

Slide Show- 4 years in 4 minutes

The memories, we trust, will last a lifetime.