Monday, March 29, 2010

Maximize Professional Development Opportunities

     One of the best—and least expensive—ways to maximize professional development opportunities at school is to have conference, workshop, or school-visit experiences brought back to your school by those who attend.  A quick email summarizing the experience or a presentation at faculty and staff meetings, sharing the experience helps everyone learn from the experience.  Here is a recent email I sent to my school colleagues:

Having just returned from attending the 50th Anniversary Annual Conference of AMS in Boston, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of my professional development experience.  Being among 3,000 Montessori educators, networking, talking about BHMS, and learning was a treat.  It was during our spring break so I could be there and not have to feel guilty about missing school!

Speakers Heard & Sessions Attended
• Maren Schmidt, author of the book Understanding Montessori A Guide for Parents
• Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall - Transforming Minds: Reimaging Learning and Schooling for the 21st Century
• Judi Bauerlein - Living Legacy recipient for 2010 (I had the good fortune to work with her on an accreditation.)
• Dr. Diane Levin - So Sexy So Soon: How Media and Marketing Affect Our Children . . . and What We Can Do to protect Them
• Daniel Pink - author of the bestselling book Drive.  I had the good fortune to interview him for a future article in Montessori Life.
• A session on On-line learning
• A session on what is new in and the future of Montessori research projects and programs
• A session on Montessori research
• Annual AMS Meeting
• Attend a Heads' networking session with over 100 heads of Montessori schools from all over the country.  Many thoughts and ideas were exchanged.

Purchased signed books and CDs for our professional development library
• Montessori in Practice by Lakshmi A. Kripalani - Observations from someone who learned and worked with Dr. Montessori.
• Building Cathedrals Not Walls by Maren Schmidt - Essays for parents and teachers
• Montessori Comes to America by Phyllis Povell - The leadership of Maria Montessori and Nancy McCormick Rambusch - I was able to attend a session to hear Phyllis read from her book.

As an AMS Board member, I had the privilege to be with some of the best and brightest in Montessori education.  Part of our time together was a dinner for the Board hosted by the Kingsley School, a nearby Montessori school for toddlers through sixth grade.  Also, I attended a Gala dinner in celebration of Nancy McCormick Rambusch, founder of AMS, and the Society's 50th Anniversary.

Present a session to 65 heads, trustees, and administrators with Bob Fricker (a consultant BHMS used on strategic planning) on building a healthy board.

Meeting new people throughout my time is always a treat.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AMS Conference

     I am attending the American Montessori Society (AMS) Annual Conference where 3,000 Montessori educators have gathered in Back Bay Boston to celebrate AMS's 50th anniversary.  It was in 1960 when Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch reintroduced America to Dr. Montessori's philosophy, started the Whitby School in Greenwich, CT, and formed AMS.  Made up of 1,100 Montessori schools and 11,000 members, the organization holds its annual conference each year in a major city in the U.S.  This year Dr. Diane Levin (author of So Sexy So Soon), Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall (author of The Power to Transform: Leadership That Brings Learning and Schooling to Life), and Daniel Pink (bestselling author of A Whole New Mind and Drive) are keynote speakers.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ned Hallowell Visit

     Recently, faculty, staff, and parents were fortunate to have Dr. Ned Hallowell spend time at our school.  "Driven From Distraction" and "Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" were topics all appreciated hearing Dr. Hallowell present.  The best part of our time together was his affable, genial, and expert delivery that is so much a part of Dr. Hallowell's work and approach to supporting children and families.  Visit his comprehensive website to learn more about this author (18 books and growing), psychiatrist, educator, and father of three.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Driving to Year 3

     It was two years ago on March 19, 2008 that this blog took to the Internet with the post "Learning About Montessori."  Oddly enough, the second post was "A Whole New Mind," Daniel Pink's popular, bestselling book.  Having attended the NAIS Annual conference the month before, I was inspired to read the book and write that post.  
     This time I have read his newest book, Drive, and will see him next week at the American Montessori Society Annual conference in Boston.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Small to Big <-> Big to Small

If you are teaching the size of small particles like molecules, atoms, and quarks OR on the other end, large things like planets, solar systems, and galaxies, click below to view the 1977 short documentary film "Powers of Ten" written and directed by Ray Eames.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Drive by Pink via TED - Part 2

     Daniel Pink's newest book Drive has many exceptional ideas and philosophy. He makes a compelling argument for moving from a 20th Century Motivation 2.0 operating system that employs the old "carrot and stick" motivators to a much improved Motivation 3.0 system that advocates for more intrinsic motivators, using autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
     If you don't have time to read his book and want to get an 18-minute insight into Drive click on the TED Talk below.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Drive to ROWE

     I was first inspired when I read Jim Collins' book How the Mighty Fall and he talks about employees who look at their work as a responsibility rather than a job (see my August 28, 2009 post "Job or Responsibility").
     In Daniel Pink's newest book Drive he writes convincingly about motivation and how people accomplish their work.  The book is fascinating.  There is one section of the book where he introduces Jeff Gunther, CEO of Meddius a small company based in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Gunther decided to make his company a "results-only work environment" or ROWE.  In Dirve Pink states "ROWEs are the brainchild of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, two former human resources executives at retailer Best Buy.  In a ROWE workplace, people don't have schedules.  They show up when they want.  They don't have to be in the office at a certain time—or any time for that matter.  They just have to get their work done.  How they do it, when they do it, and where they do it is up to them."
     Can this really work?  Get a copy of Drive and learn much much more about how people are motivated.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Beautiful Father/Son Story - Part 2

A few posts ago I offered a link to a StoryCorps story about a 16-year old father who raised his son.  The following week, StoryCorps presented a sequel that revealed another twist to the original beautiful story.  Very touching, listen to the 2-minute piece ->

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Prophetic Pacyderms

     I love John Godfrey Saxe's version of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” where six blind men are positioned at different locations around the elephant each describing what he senses.  
     In my reading, I came across another beautiful piece using the majestic elephant.
      “I was at a meeting recently when a colleague told a story of being in India, where an educator there asked her, somewhat skeptically, ‘In America, you test your students a lot, don’t you?’  She replied, ‘Well, indeed, the United States has a national policy that requires testing of all students in certain grades.’  The Indian educator said, ‘Here, when we want the elephant to grow, we feed the elephant.  We don’t weigh the elephant.’ “

Taken from the article, “Don’t Weigh the Elephant—Feed the Elephant: Feedback Is Key in Assessment,” by Milton Chen, Executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation; 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Executive Functioning & Self-regulation in Children

         As reported by our Head of Preschool to parents and faculty: 

"We were fortunate to have New York University Professor Clancy Blair give two inspiring presentations to preschool teachers and parents on his current research, which is studying the development of self-regulation in children using measures of executive functioning and stress physiology and relating these to measures of children’s temperament, adjustment to preschool, and early academic growth.  Executive functions (EFs) are aspects of cognition that are called upon when brain and behavior cannot simply run on automatic, and when one has to stop and exert effort to process information and manage behavior.  In general, EFs are aspects of cognition that are important for planning, future directed thinking, and monitoring of behavior.  Therefore, they are essential for school readiness and early school achievement.  Professor Blair’s research, and that of others in child development, has shown that EFs are better predictors of academic achievement than general intelligence."