Diane M. Bauso special for the citizen
“Our care for the child must be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the effort to keep always burning in him that light which is called intelligence.” —Maria Montessori
There is always a lot of discussion at this time of year about student performance assessment. While public sector Montessorians face a standardized curriculum and mandatory standardized testing, those of us in the private sector face questions about how our Montessori program aligns with these standards.
Understanding how a child is progressing academically is essential to the learning process. It is essential for the growth of the student, the know-how of the teacher and the peace of mind of the parents. At Creative Minds Montessori, we focus on the educational process, not the end product. In our classrooms, the child’s natural development is nurtured while allowing them to become independent and self-aware.
Most Montessori schools do not use grades or test results to assess children’s progress. Although we do not subject our children to these types of assessments, which are often arbitrary and biased, it can be difficult to find a meaningful way to gauge their progress. How do we measure a child’s growth and development in a way that lets us know how they are doing without using tests or grades?
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At Creative Minds, we assess our students’ progress in a number of ways:
Each child is observed daily in their work environment. Observation is essential to the Montessori approach and allows teachers to see what interests the child, if he is ready to progress in the school program and what he can do to prepare a stimulating environment for the child. . The teacher takes notes on students’ work habits, peer interactions, and their ability to process the task at hand. They also observe the child’s reasoning, time management skills and attitudes. Through this in-depth observation, our teachers are able to quickly identify challenges the child may be facing and develop an individual plan to help them.
Daily and weekly written assignments are reviewed by our teachers to assess progress and ability. By looking at the child’s daily work, we are able to see each child’s natural strengths, as well as areas that need improvement. With this knowledge, we can help our children find their most comfortable and natural path to progress.
Each child has several opportunities throughout the school year to present a project. The process of researching, writing, refining, constructing, inventing, and speaking in public is a great tool for assessing a child’s progress throughout the year.
At Creative Minds, we hold conferences twice a year to review our children’s portfolios and give an in-depth assessment of each child’s progress. The conference is essentially a time for parents and teachers to come together and get on the same page. We believe that when families are positively involved in their child’s education, their child will thrive.
Evaluation is an ongoing and dynamic process at Creative Minds. Instead of viewing it as the end product of education or what students have learned, we view assessment as a means to improve student learning. Our assessment method helps us recognize where our students are in their learning, where they are going and what they need to get there. It’s a model that Montessori teachers around the world have used for over 100 years, and we stick to it!
Diane M. Bauso is Principal of Creative Minds Montessori School, 169 Genesee St., Auburn. She can be reached at (315) 406-9495 or auburncms.com.