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alwayslearning2 02-10-2005 04:01 PM

Thanks to those who gave advice on my "problem with montessori school"
here is the update
One school has an opening, I generally get a good feeling from the school and am going to observe again. but they are applaying for state private school accredidation and renewing thier AMS so they can't take a child that wasn't 2 last November or something.
They could possibly put him in the toddler class ( thay said last year that he was too old for toddler?) However, he is used to using montessori materials, not just the practical life materials they have in the toddler room. I wonder if he would be bored without montessori materials and all younger children ( probably 3-8 months younger) He easily get in the -3-6 in September, though.

Today Ethan was back in preschool, I knew that the teacher would be nice because she was being observed y AMI today.
The owner asked how he was doing ( after the teacher accidnetally fed him a regular cupcake, he is allergic to several foods)

( by the way, he was calmer at home and more focused when he stayed home mon and tues, when he went to preschool, he was constantly getting into things that afternoon) He said he wanted to go back the next day, " because Mrs J didn't yell at me today"

Today Dr. Rita Zener from AMI observed my son's classroom. She was seems very serene and wise, not at all rigid. While she was taking a break she walked into the auditorium where I was studying. I introduced myself as a parent, and asked if she would mind answering a question. I didn't say anything about the arm grabbing or yelling, I just asked a way to help my son put materials back on the shelves before getting another one. She said that "was the teachers Job to deal with" ( the teacher said I was my responsibility , that I must not be doing that at home ... which i do) I asked a way to facillitate the relationship between the teacher and child and using a quote from her about discipline, asked a way encourage the teacher to use "neither sweetness nor severity when re-directing a child from a detour from productive development." Dr. Zener said that neither are productive, but that sweetness is better than severity. I said that he may be balking because he feels he is always being reprimanded. She asked which child was mine, said she would watch for him when observing.

I didn't mention the yelling or arm grabbing because I didn't want to "tattle" and the teacher hasn't given me an opportunity to speak to her yet.

Here is an e-mail I am sending to the teacher because when I asked for a meeting she said to wait untill conferences, that's in March and we have to re-new our contract fot next year by next week.
Is the following something that gets the facts across without putting them too much on the defensive?


Thank you for calling immediately last friday. We will continue to educate E about his food allergies. We appreciate your continued vigilance. Last Friday we send along a library book that explains food allergies to children. The library also had a 15 min film for teachers on allergies.

After the recent observation and parent night, we have a request.

We request that "neither sweet not severe language is used to re-direct the child (e) from a detour in productive work" We request that e's arm is not grabbed and that he is not yelled at.

Thank you for working with us to create a orderly, nurturing environment at preschool and at home.

We may be "complaining our way right out the door...they protect thier own" as one post said ( and more responsive to people with money) but I can't let this go, and I can't wait untill March!!!!!!

e&r 02-11-2005 02:37 AM

Be assured that if you talked to the consultant that they will be vigilant in their assessment of the teacher and the school. At least, in my experience, the consultants, especially if they are teacher trainers (Ms. Zener is) are astute observers and really can, usually in a gentle but no-nonsense way, guide a wayward teacher to get back on track, or, if this is not possible, to let the administration know of what needs to be remedied before certification can be possible. All of this will happen privately, please don't expect to hear any negatives that the consultant had to say to the teacher or the administrator.

I have found the consultants I have dealt with to be very straight up about problems. I used to be the education director of a school where we were having concerns about the Children's House teacher. Nothing like you are describing (she was very kind to the students), but a general lack of interest in pursuing important parts of the curriculum (music, movement, language, etc.). We called in an AMI consultant (privately, not for accreditation) for an outside evaluation for both classes (mine included) and for advice and it was very helpful.

Good luck. I hope that perhaps your sons teacher can make a turn-around so that you don't have to switch schools.

BTW - if your son is three he should definitely *not* be in a toddler class unless he has some type of developmental disability, and maybe not even then.


alwayslearning2 02-12-2005 02:00 AM

The teacher read my e-mail, and dicsussed it with me on her way to the restroom,
She basically said that she "holds" the children's arm to get thier attention, and needs to raise her voice to get thier attention when they are not listening. holding the arm is not what saw. The three times I've seen (once with my child 2x with older children) she grabbed thier arm and pulled then away from something or towards her, spoke harshly, the quickly returned to normal tone again.) she said that it is "her job" to get thier attention. I said that yes, I agree but that I thought Maria Montessori wrote that 3-6 year olds are particularly sensitive to raised voices, and asked her to please not grab my child's arm again. SHe said that she would not, and that she didn't yell at any child in particular. I said that yes, but to me the yelling sounded angry. She laughed and said that she was not angry. I said that I understand that it can be frustrating with 32 children, and that I understand the need to get them to pay attention, but that I thought that because of the way she did it, my child was balking. She said that i don't need to worry, and that his behavior is much better now?????????

She said that because I have now created structure in the home ( I haven't done anything differently other than remind him to put his books away more often) that he is now placing materials back on the shelves and is less distractable, looks in her eyes when she speaks to him and rarely needs her to "get his attention" That does not make sense, how would putting books away encourage him to look in her eyes.
Maybe if she is yelling less he is willing to look at her when she is speaking. She said that maybe he thinks that it is her when he hears any person making noise, and that a child being lound he could mistake for her. He's almost 3, not unaware of who is speaking when.

I could ask the director of the school what she would do if she was in my shoes. We would have to enroll by the 15th (tuesday)to have a space for next year, I'm not sure, but I don't want this teacher to be a major influence if she thinks that is necessary to raise her voice on a regular basis.

I don't want to go somewhere that's not true montessori. But one former teacher now admin from another school said that if he's making a fence out of the color tablets ( as I've observed... and airplanes from the small pink tower pieces,) that maybe he's bored, (shoudl the guide ask him to choose a lesson??), she would say he should use the color tablets for grading colors, but give him glue and toothpicks of he feels the need to build. That may not be true montessori, but isn't that more in the spirit of the philosophy of following the child?

If I pull him out and try to vie for a space the the AMS school, we are not guaranteed a space, and I don't want him to miss out on using the materials,

maybe the current teacher will be more kind from now on. I definately heard less yelling the past two days that normal. ( I am temporarily studying in a room down the hall while he is in the children's house)

e&r 02-12-2005 06:14 PM

I am curious about what the consultant might have said to her. Really, unless a child was about to do physical harm I would avoid being physically restraining with any child. Yelling, by the way, is *never* used (or at least it never should be).

Also, it is not her job to "get their attention," it is her job to create a peaceful, interesting, developmentally appropriate environment to allow the children to "create" themselves.

Perhaps this piece of advice for her (and really, anyone who has children or works with them):

When I was in my primary training in MN, I interned at a wonderful school in Minneapolis. The teacher there was very experienced and her class was just wonderful. She gave me the most useful piece of advice anyone has ever given me about working with children.

She reminded me of the "triangle" of our work - the child (at the peak of the triangle), the environment, and the adult.

When things are not going as we wish they were, first look to the environment. Is is neat, orderly? Are the sets of materials complete, without broken or missing parts? Are there enough, but not too many, materials there for each child? If all looks good, but there is still some difficulty, then look to the adult. How do I feel today? Am I healthy? Did I get enough sleep? How is my personal life - have I had an argument with my dh, my mil, etc.? Do I have monetary stresses? If I am feeling fine, only then do I look to the child.

We rarely get to looking to the child as the "cause" of the difficulty. It is almost always one of the first two which can solve it. I mean that - *rarely* is it the child who is the real cause of the difficulty.

If this teacher is grabbing arms and raising her voice more than once or twice a year (still not acceptable, but possibly understandable if she is having a bad day) then she needs to look somewhere else as to the cause of the difficulties that she is encountering in her class.

I will try my best to look through my theory album for you for some quotes to be able to speak with better authority to the teacher and administrator. I'm rather busy with school and ds and being pregnant, so if you don't hear from me and you still want this, bug me so I get to it.

At least the are somewhat listening to you.

If you are willing, will you pm me where your school is?

Good luck!

alwayslearning2 06-04-2005 05:51 AM

Thanks for replying, I do appreciate hearing from an experienced montesssorian, and I know you are busy.

Update: we enrolled ds ( now three and three months) in an AMS school for next year. They do not have a full three hour work period because there is elective music and "gym" two days a week and 15 min of outside time before pick-up. They are signifigantly more expensive and hald an hour away,
I don't like the car line at the AMS school, which E would hate more than dropping him off at the door. BUT he met with one of the guides at the AMS school and asks to go to that school instead of his current school ( on the way to his current preschool in the morning)

The guide who yelled and did the arm-grabbing at parent night at his current AMI preschool has since seemed to change a lot. She even seems a bit happier now that it is the end of the year and the classroom is running smoothly ( she has said that she misses her original country and her family and is chronically ill in the US with a cold) (During a field trip the casa children were quieter and more attentive that a group of eight and ten year-olds from another school) About five weeks ago, I guess in late April early May, E started to do really well in the classroom, no longer being disruptive and he stopped saying that he did not want to go to preschool for about a month. (The school reported in thier March newsletter that Rita Zener said Mrs J's classroom was normalized, which is great, ( in march he was still having trouble and getting in trouble every day)

Now he is back to saying he does not want to go. One day he refused to get out of his car sear ( which he did for a long time in the fall) and I asked what was wrong and he said that he had gotten in trouble because two children were too close to him and he asked them to walk away and they didn't so he pushed them and got in trouble for it.
I let the assistant know and she said she would watch for it and keep him next to her so he would feel protected.

Then I noticed during an observation two boys were bothering him ( he has sensory integration disorder, he really does not like people invading his personal space and the children are aware of this... he started doing well at preschool since starting occupational therapy and enzymes)

I was thinking of keeping him at the current preschool because they called and said they still have an opening, and because it is familiar to him. ( he may need more endoscopy's and possibly a feeding tube for E028 formula so familiar would be good) BUT he says he is more comfortable with the guide he met at the AMS school, and that "her no is nicer than Mrs. J's no"
He won't look his current guide in the eyes when I am around, and Rita Zener deduced that Mrs/J's classroom was normalized, which is great, but now again every mornigng he says he does not want to go, but he seems happy when I pick him up. Some of the older girls deffinately watch out for him, even to the point of watching me with him during the school picnic and holding his hand on the merry-go-round when he looked worried. I woudl hate for him to loose those friends, but he still says he wants to go to the other school.

I do wonder if changing from AMI to AMS without a three hour work period would hurt the progress he has made in the last few weeks.
I think that the AMS's school while having only 19 children ( as opposed to the AMI school's 31... "to have the right classroom chemistry" might be more comfortable for E because it would be easier on his sensory imput. On the other hand, it also might not have the "right chemistry" and the guide might actually have to remind the children more than in a classroom with 30... does that make sense?
The AMS classroom seemed "normalized" but I do not know enough to really make that judgement.

This is the clincher!!!! E told me that one of the boys I saw bothering him during my observation came into the bathroom when he was urinating ( he stands) and e said that the boy ( also 3) "stuck his finger in my butt" I asked if he was ok, he said he pushed him away" and I reminded him to always tell me and the teacher. Preeschool is over for the summer , I called the teacher and she said she is surprised because they make sure only one child is in the resroom at a time ( it's a one-toilet room in the classroom) He said he didnt' tell the assistant because "she was busy" :
but that she will call the other parent. I made sure to talk with him again ( as we have before) about privat parts and that no one is to touch them, and that he shoudl tell me if anyone tries and get the teacher right away.
I don't know if a three year old could make up something like that????????

flyingspaghettimama 06-04-2005 06:58 PM


I don't think your son is making anything up, but he and you might have different ideas of what he means (possibly). Ask him to show you (on himself) how the other boy did it. I think perhaps the teacher needs to have a talk with the class about keeping hands to self and always asking permission before touching others, and some places are never to be touched. We had this problem at our school this year too. Mostly it's harmless or goofing off, but it does need to be addressed seriously and not dismissed. Which it somewhat sounds like if the teacher says that it can't happen because only one is allowed in the bathroom at a time.

We are having problems at our montessori school as well, and we only have two weeks left, and we're thinking of pulling her. Apparently (and my daughter doesn't tend to fib or exaggerate) the teacher told her that until the end of the year she is only to do "hard" work and no "easy" work. My daughter defines this as "boring" work and comes home crying. The thousand chain, some sort of leaf-outline and coloring work (it took her 2 1/2 days to do this one work), spelling words. She reads at a really high level (maybe second-grade) already at five and is interested in everything at home; I'm so sad to hear her say "I hate school. I hate hard work." We have made noises in the past that she hasn't been sufficiently challenged, but this sure isn't what we were wanting instead.

alwayslearning2 06-06-2005 04:05 PM

It it sad when a child des not like school, something that should be fun and a place they feel safe.

Maybe the guide is exaggerating your request to make sure your daughter is choosing challenging work. In montessori I think that the children choose the material they work on, it does not sound right for the guide to tell a child that she can only choose "hard" materials , especially when a child is choosing work that she personlly likes and is challenged by.

e&r 06-09-2005 07:56 PM

I agree about the "hard" and "easy" work. It is not up to the teacher to dictate to the child the difficulty of the work they choose. We are supposed to "follow the child."

I think that sometimes teachers get caught up in the academic part of the work that they (the teachers) are presenting to the children and forget that we are supposed to be providing "education for life" - meaning that the children are supposed to be well adjusted, happy, able to make choices, self-directed, etc.


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