Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Assistant Training

My assistant from two years ago has gone on to college to study Psychology and after a very successful search, I found someone with the spirit and energy necessary (it seems) to run with a room full of 3-6 year olds. Since my new assistant doesn't have any experience in Montessori, I wanted to give her a good introduction to not only the method, but the practical things about what will be her job.

My first year in Montessori I was an assistant. Honestly I think I was a terrible one. The reason was not lack of inspiration, but rather a lack in communication. If you don't know what you're supposed to be doing, then how can you be expected to do it? I really want my assistant to know how to help me. So I must teach her how.

Because the school is so small, and I'll basically spend all day with my assistant in the room with the children our communication is key. We've been spending every morning this past week, and will continue until Friday going over this mini crash course in Montessori classroom assistant's job.

I know different people understand the role of the assistant in different ways, but I think I know what I'm comfortable with. So what to some might seem an excessive amount of information, to me seems just right.

Here is what we're doing this week:


The Prepared Environment:

-Organization of the Classroom
-Identify Areas
-Identify Materials present (a place for everything, everything in its place)
-Where to sit for observing, for giving lessons, during meetings
-Where to gather groups

Practical Life:

-Analysis of Movement:

-How to walk
-How to carry a basket, pitcher, tray, box
-How to sit in a chair
-How to roll and unroll a rug
-How to approach a child

Grace and Courtesy:
-How to Help

-PL Modes of Activity (wiping a table, dusting, sweeping, mopping, using the spill bucket, etc)

-Normalizing the Conditions:
-Trust: how to gain the trust of the children
-Approachability- attractiveness

-How to identify it
-How to protect it

-Modes of Activity
-The goal

-How to gather a group
-How to sustain the interest of the group
-How to dismiss the group


-Concentration (hands and eyes work together)
-Purpose of the material respected
-Social Exchanges
-Interests (opportunities for new lessons)
-Large group movement
-Individual work
-Self evaluation

-Overview of Language:

-Dutch Objectives
-How to communicate in the classroom
-Language modes of Activity

-Enrichment of Vocabulary
-Language Training
-Poetry and Song

-Good Literature

-Lesson Plans:
-How to prepare
-What they should look like
-Record keeping


-Freedom and Discipline:
Rules of the classroom:

-Positive Phrasing
-Active Listening

-Overview of Sensorial Area:

-Introduction: How children create a map of their world
-Modes of Activity
-Smell: smelling game
-Taste: tasting lesson
-Touch: touching game
-Auditory: The other sound game
-Visual: Show and tell

-Key Concepts in Montessori Education:
-Maria Montessori
-Four Planes of Development
-Prepared Environment
-Absorbent Mind
-Sensitive Periods
-Control of Error/Friendliness with Error
-Role of the Adult


-Overview of Mathematics:
-Modes of Activity

-Overview of Science
-Modes of Activity
-Field Trips

-Overview of Art
-Modes of Activity

-Overview of Music
-Modes of Activity

-Overview of Geography
-Modes of Activity
-Country of the Week

-Parent Communication:
-At Beginning of Day
-At End of Day
-In General Community
-Appearance of the assistant


-Create a lesson plan
-Go over daily schedule and scenarios for first week
-Clean Shelves


Lindart said...

Wow, that's a lot of info for one week! I hope it goes well. I find that either people "get it" or don't, and it's hard to find that out until the person has been working for a few weeks. In Montessori we are so "anal" and some people have a really hard time with that. Some people I've worked with think I'm badgering them when I have to keep reminding them of things like tucking in chairs, don't sit on the tables, don't put things on top of the materials, etc. One assistant I had a few years ago went ballistic on me one day because she felt a child needed more lessons, he'd already "done" a bunch of lessons - she wouldn't encourage him to repeat because he'd already "done" it. She didn't get the PL repetition concept and wanted him to do more advanced things, even though I knew he wasn't anywhere near ready. (We had a mutual parting a few days later!) Good luck in your assistant training, I hope she "gets it"!

Gypsy said...

That is wonderful to have a structured plan ... in my former life I did HR and training stuff, and it is SO critical to get induction right. People create all sorts of impressions and ideas in the first few days on the job, and its incredibly hard to change these later on, so worth putting in a big effort up front. Will be keen to find out how it goes. Maybe you could do an 'album' for training new assistants

Jessica said...

It's great that you're willing to give your new assistant such a great start and explanation to your classroom. I'm sure it will pay off!

My introduction to Montessori was as an assistant and for awhile it was a struggle, because the teacher I was working with felt an assistant should only prepare materials which was not the opinion of my director.

We eventually worked it all out and now I'm doing my teacher training.