advice on really different age range class

Discussion in 'Montessori Archives' started by Kerana5, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2006

    I'm back and asking for more advice. I've just finished the 2nd week at my new school. We are a small private school (we only have a total of 40 students, 2 classrooms and 2 teachers with 4 assistants, 3 of whom are on a rotating schedule). Our director/owner has never been at school for more than three hours at a time, and is usually gone for days at a time, due to health problems.

    In my class I have 20 kids. The oldest should have moved on to 1st grade in public school but mom thought she wanted another year in Montessori. I have 2 Kindergarteners who don't know their letter sounds and don't know how to write anything. I have 4 two year olds in diapers, none of whom can speak and three of whom have a language other than english as their home language.

    The youngest child is there only 2 days a week, and so far I have not been able to get him to stop crying long enough to show him any activities. I have five years experience in a classroom (usually with 30 kids) but never have I been in a situation where I cannot get a child calmed down. My assistant is a sweetheart but she hasn't a clue as to what to do as an assistant either. I'm working on that, but she's still trying to give lessons and hand feed the kids who don't feel like doing it themselves, no matter how old they are.

    Now, how can I get the child to stop crying? What kind of stuff does a 1st grader get in a Montessori school (I only have 3-6 training)? What do I do with the toddlers? How do I approach my assistant without insulting her?

    Thanks,
    Kerana5
     
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  3. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2006

    forgot some details

    About the child the cries, he is in class only a half day (11:30 pick up) and usually arrives late (9:30 or 10 when school starts at 8:30)

    The first grader is there all day. everyday.

    My personal schedule is to be at school by 7am, school's before program starts at 7:30am, school starts at 8:30 which is when my assistant is supposed to report for duty (director told her that). We get no chance to talk to each other as I have playground duty while she sets up lunch, at lunch time we're setting up nap, at nap time we're working with the older kids who don't nap, and in the afternoon she has playground duty while I clean the classroom. I leave at 3:30 so I can meet with parents or make materials or do my errands. She leaves at 4:30pm.

    We've set up a weekly meeting for mondays at morning recess, starting next week. The lead from the other classroom is going to be outside with her assistant while we meet.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Aug 19, 2006

    Hi, Kerana5, and welcome to AtoZ (if I haven't already welcomed you!) I'm in West Palm and in a very small school (80 kids) grades K to 8. We do have one class per grade, though, even when it has to be very small.

    It sounds as though you really have made headway dealing with some of the challenges you are facing. That weekly meeting with the assistant is essential. I assume you are clear on what role you want her to play. In my opinion, the crier needs to be at school on a dependable schedule. All the uncertainty just fuels the fears.

    How old is the oldest student? Is all the instruction Montessori? Why do you have so many on different schedules?

    I'm sorry you don't have an administration you can count on. The situation sounds like rather unfair expectations of you.
     
  5. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Aug 19, 2006

    Even if you don't get a chance to talk more often, it can be helpful to have a list of particular things you need her to do, particular behaviors to watch for, etc... put this in a specific place so that it's thre for both of you to refer to. I did this in my room last year even though we DID have weekly meetings and talked daily, and it seemed to help a lot.
     
  6. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2006

    My oldest child is 6 going on 7. He is with us because his mother wanted him and his brother to have another full year of Montessori school before transitioning into public school. Once he goes to public school he will repeat first grade...though not if I have anything to do with it. He is ahead of everyone else by leaps and bounds.

    In my classroom we have some children who are signed up for:

    Extended day, five day program.
    Morning only, five day program.
    Extended day, three day program (M, W, F).
    Morning only, three day program.
    Extended day, two day program (T, TH)
    Morning only, two day program.

    Teachers' schedule:
    Me: by 7:30 am every morning, leave by 3:30pm so afterschool program can use the class.
    My Assistant: by 8:30 every morning, leave at 4:30 or later depending on when children get picked up from afterschool program.

    Other Lead: by 7:30 am every morning.
    Assistant A: 8:00 - 1:00 Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
    Assistant B: 8:00 - 1:00 Tuesday, Friday
    Assistant C: 12:30 - 6:30 every day.

    I don't understand why the schedule was set up this way. I also don't understant why we have such a wide reange of ages in one classroom. I have a 1st grader (the only one in the school), two Kindergardeners (the only ones in the school), a bunch of 4s, 3s, and four 2 yr olds who are not potty trained and cannot talk yet (the only four that age in the school).

    I don't know what kind of activities to put out for them...I can deal with the 3s, 4s and the 5s. The 1st grader and the toddlers are the ones who stump me.

    Kerana5
     
  7. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2006


    All the instruction in MY classroom is Montessori. I notice that the other classroom tends to me more standard daycare/preschool type things. I'm not trying to offend or point fingers. Just using that description because they tend to do more group activities, and crafts that all end up looking the same.

    In my class I'm trying to get the younger ones to do more practical life and sensorial things such as squeeze drop stop and scissor use. I have my Ks doing stuff with the multiplication/division board...but also a lot of pre-handwritting type things. The first grader is doing journaling by tracing over words I've written in highlighter, but that he's dictated to me.

    I don't do worksheets, or coloring pages...which the other classroom does a lot of.

    Kerana5
     
  8. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Aug 19, 2006

    It must be difficult having 2 year olds in a classroom. Do the other classrooms have 2 year olds? Are the 2 year olds all day? I agree that the schedule is just too much. We have a full day which is from 8:30-3:30. Half Day AM: 8:30-11:30 Half Day PM 12:30-3:30. We offer a 3 day schedule which must be MTW and a 5 Day schedule. Everyone must be 5 days except for brand new 3 year olds. All K's must be full day for 5 days. Too bad that the administrator did not set up a 2yr-3yr type of class.

    If we have 6yr olds that need an extra year, they are considered to be K's. We do have Elementary classes through 6th grade, so we are able to get materials from their classes to work with the more advanced K's. Does he have a work plan? Is he able to read at a 1st grade level? Our K's read the Sizzy books (Pals) that focus on reading comprehension. Is he working with the grammar works? In math, is he capable of adding or subtracting the large #'s. In sensorial does he know the shapes of the geometric cabinet? I have a list of what we expect a Kindergartner to know before moving to our 1st grade. Email me if you would like more details.
     
  9. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 19, 2006

    Your class sounds kind of like mine as far as ability goes. We should have have 13 "typically developing" 6 special ed. 3-4 age cycle but mentally 1 year - 6 years. The schedule has been the same in the past running from one thing to another. We are going to try to change that this year I hope. Last year one day I seriously almost wet my pants because I didn't have a chance to get to the restroom and had like 30 oz of coffee in me! Since you are of Montesorri background (I am not) but perhaps you would like doing "project work" with your class? We won a grant last year (along with about 60 other teachers in our area) and the range of kids doing the projects were from 2 year olds - first grade. I am not sure if any of the classes had this many ages together but you can make it work. Google "The Project Approach" see if that helps at least a little.

    As for the baby who cries. One of my babies cried last year the first two days for 90 mins. Then the third day for about 30 mins... eventually she cut the time down and now she cries when she leaves!
     
  10. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2006

    Hey Chicagoturtle, Welcome to the Montessori forum. I have been reading some of your posts. They are very interesting. I am from the Northwestern suburbs. (boondocks). We used to live in Elgin, but we now we are near Rockford.
     
  11. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Aug 20, 2006

    Try to involve the older children in working with the younger children. They can read stories, sing songs, practice grace and courtesy and teach preliminary exercises for starters. Of course, you'll want to make sure the child doing the teaching is presenting the materials with attention to detail. Stay with them the first few times.
    IMO, 2 years is a great time to start children's house. All the initial practical life materials are geared towards this age/developmental stage. What type of training do you have?
    As far as toileting goes, do you have a child sized toilet? Can they use it whenever they need to? You should talk to their parents about toilet learning (this should be a goal for them right now). Establish their ability to respond to their own bodies signals (care of self), then you can proceed to care of the environment. I would have them change into cotton pants when they enter the environment.
    For the older child, did he progress through the bead games for the operations? Can he skip count all the chains? Did he do the stamp game and dot game? If he has passed all this material, their should be plenty of time to practice with the practice charts and blank charts.
    The schedule your school created makes it very difficult to create the social cohesion and positive group dynamics characteristic of a Montessori environment. I can see why you are having difficulty getting the children oriented to the environment. The children should all be on the same regular schedule. I personally would not tolerate this kind of set up.
    Having a list of what to do is really helpful for the assistant. It should include making sure materials are set out for the lessons, restocking paper, fabrics/thread, collage materials etc. Also, straightening/dusting shelves and maintaining awareness of the group for safety. You should be the one that presents all lessons and directs the children to find purposeful activity. She should not be involved one on one or be responsible for correcting mistakes, much less feeding children. You need to educate her about mistakes and their correction, independence and normalization. She is undoing all your hard work by creating dependencies.
    In our class, we have a "waiting spot" for children to go to when they need help. Then they are to wait until someone comes to help. It could be the teacher, the assistant or another child. This will release the assistant from feeling that she has to take over their work. She should only help them when they use the waiting spot and then, only to guide them, not to take over. The waiting spot is presented through a grace and courtesy lesson. Are you familiar with this?
     
  12. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 20, 2006

    I hope that is interesting in a good way and not a bad way. We are not Montessori. I went to Montessori when I was very little. We have a few Montessori schools in the distrct. They are trying to get us to do the Regio Emellio (sp) approach with the State - Pre-K programs here in CPS. At least the "South Side" branch of State Pre-k. I have been through Rockford to the "Clock Tower" on the bus when I used to live in Madison and fly out of O'hare. I think I know Elgin is the end of one of the Metra lines.... Though I am not really great with geography outside of the city...
     

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