Primary Assistant Needs Help!

Discussion in 'Montessori' started by Primarycolors, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. Primarycolors

    Primarycolors Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2007

    Hello all,

    I am a new primary assistant (going into my third week) at a very classic Montessori school, and I'm feeling quite frustrated :(. I'm elementary certified (traditional education), and have also taught "traditional" preschool. I have worked with many special needs children in the public school system, and can recognize the tell-tale characteristics of certain disorders. Which brings me to a child in our classroom, an almost 5-year-old child (T.) who I am 90 percent sure has some form of autism. (He repeats a lot of what you say to him; has a very short attention span; randomly pokes other children and seems to have no concept of "personal space"; throws materials; etc.) He requires almost constant one-on-one attention to keep him productively involved in an appropriate activity, and to keep him from bothering/hurting other children. In short, he practically needs his own personal aide!

    The teacher I work with as well as the administrative staff don't seem to realize that he has a disorder (if it is not autism, then it is something else - but apparently he hasn't been diagnosed yet.) His parents must be in denial as well (although I recently found out he was expelled from another Montessori school last year.)

    I try *very* hard to work with him and to give him lots of positive reinforcement. However, we also have a very immature 3 1/2 -year- old in the class (J.) who also requires much one-on-one attention to make sure he's doing something productive and not throwing rice on the floor, etc. Between these two children I am physically and mentally exhausted by lunchtime! (These two kids are only there for a half day.) I have taught 21 kindergarteners all day, all by myself and have never been as tired after a day with them, as I am after just 3 hours with those two!

    I have tried to communicate with the head teacher (this is her first year as teacher) just how exhausted I am from working with these two kids. She helps to redirect them, as well, but I try to work it so that I'm handling most of the issues, because I know she must spend most of her time giving lessons to one or two children at a time.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Should I try to approach this with the coordinator? I don't want them to think I am complaining, but I really question whether this is an appropriate place for T. I also feel strongly that we need to consider the needs of the other children. I feel that they only get the crumbs of attention from me that are leftover after dealing with both T. and J. all morning.

    Thank you very much :love:
     
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  3. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Oct 26, 2007

    Hi Primarycolors!

    I think the head teacher should take a bigger role in directing their behavior. I've had experience with ADD/ADHD and autism and Montessori. It can really be a great place for children with these challenges. She should be presenting many new lessons to them and getting them involved in productive activities. She should keep these children close to her, keeping in constant contact. I know it can be difficult to incorporate children with these behaviors, they are disruptive to the rest of the class but I do think the other children gain alot by helping them. There is a great book on this subject called "Children who are not yet peaceful by Donna Bryant Goertz.
     
  4. yorkyfan

    yorkyfan Rookie

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    Oct 27, 2007

    Hi! I am also a new primary assistant in a Montessori classroom and am experiencing a similiar problem. I have two 3 and half year olds who tantrum, poke other children, and never engage with the materials and I am utterly exhausted by the end of the day. I am not allowed to present the materials to any child in the class because I am not Montessori-trained. Only my lead teacher can teach the children. So it's my job to deal with the difficult children so the teacher can do as many presentations as possible. I don't have any words of wisdom here but you have my sympathy. Being an assistant in a Montessori classroom can be demoralising when you have children who are struggling. I hope your situation improves.
     
  5. Primarycolors

    Primarycolors Rookie

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    Oct 28, 2007

    Thank you for your replies, Yenna and Yorkyfan!

    I will look for the book you recommended, Yenna. Lately, the teacher has been keeping those two kids closer to her, but then this means she has less time to give lessons, so it's still a tricky situation...Yorkyfan, I "feel your pain" and hope things get better for you, as well!

    I had an idea for working with T., but would like some feedback on it. I was thinking that we could make some photo cards of materials that are appropriate for T. to work with (maybe from old Montessori catalogs). He could choose 5 of these cards plus a snack card (to start with) when he arrives in the morning, and then stick them onto a cardboard strip (with velcro). This might help him make more appropriate choices (since the shelves and shelves of materials can be so overwhelming), and keep him more focused. Of course, if he decides not to do an activity on his strip, he could just go back over to his menu of choices and choose a different card. (This strategy is used a lot in the public schools in special needs classrooms). I understand that this would make him "stand out" from the other kids; however, the others already realize he is different from them, and that he needs more guidance. What do you think?
     
  6. yorkyfan

    yorkyfan Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2007

    I think it is a great idea. What does your lead teacher think?
     
  7. Primarycolors

    Primarycolors Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2007

    Thanks, yorkyfan. I didn't run it by her yet, but we just learned today that they need to disperse a classroom, so we will soon gain about 8 more kids plus another teacher! :eek: I really wonder how all of this change will affect T....I'm thinking it will make him even more distractible and impulsive. Stay tuned...;)
     
  8. el kikuyo

    el kikuyo New Member

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    Oct 30, 2007

    anybody wants to volunteer at little montessori school in Ecuador?

    Hi, I am mother of two and I have just started a very little school based on Emmi Pikler and Montessori principles. It is a personal project. I don´t have any funding or sponsorhips. I really need help but I can not afford a salary. I can give food and lodge for one person that can help me. It is not necessary having any qualifications, only to know a little about Montessori method. If you know of someone please let me know, thank you verymuch
     
  9. el kikuyo

    el kikuyo New Member

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    Oct 30, 2007

    sorry!

    Sorry primarycolors, I made a mistake. I am new at this! I wanted to send a new post and I sent it by mistake to your post. As I am not experienced I do not know what to say, just that you are a very sensitive and loving assistant. Follow your heart...
     

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