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What's Up Magazine

Shandra Dohoney

Jan 09, 2018 03:36PM ● By Caley Breese

Photo by Tony Lewis, Jr.

Chesapeake Montessori School, Annapolis

Years Teaching Overall: “In the past, I have worked with children of all ages in many other forms, including substituting at a Montessori school in New York State, working as a camp counselor, and at a traditional preschool.”

Years Teaching at Chesapeake Montessori:

Currently teaching: “In my classroom, as with other AMI Primary Montessori classes, I teach a mixed age group comprised of children ages 2.5–6 years. Our curriculum is comprised of multidimensional ‘subject areas’ that support the child’s whole development, academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. The child is guided to the materials that are developmentally-appropriate for them through lessons that are given individually or in small groups. The mixed age group supports the child’s social-emotional and academic growth, as the older children act as models and teachers for the younger.”

Proudest teaching moment:
“In a Montessori classroom, it is not the teacher that does most of the “teaching.” I instead act as a guide, introducing the child to materials and concepts that are developmentally-appropriate and then, after having shown them how to use the material,
they are free to make their intellectual discoveries and build their understanding actively and independently. It makes me proud every time I see a child discover a concept independently and make spontaneous discoveries through their own work.”

Teaching Philosophy:
  “As Maria Montessori said, ‘Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education.’ By educating today’s children to be not only academically accomplished, but also competent, empathetic, inquisitive, and socially aware, I believe that they will have the tools to create a better tomorrow.”

Toughest challenge facing educators:
“I believe that regardless of pedagogy, teachers enter into the field with very similar ideals and goals. Teachers, while often being some of the most intellectual in their various subject areas, have not chosen a career that will gain them notoriety or great financial reward. The challenges we face are many and varied, but I think we all struggle each day to jump over bureaucratic and administrative hurdles in our way to remember why we have gotten into this work in the first place. We have all chosen this field because we want to help children have a brighter future. Taking a moment each day to be mindful and “hang” our other concerns at the door, remembering why we are here, and what the true goal of our work is can help us to find a balance without burning out. Noticing the small gains and little steps the children take each day can help us to not lose sight of the bigger picture. We are not just giving a lesson or meeting a standard, we are helping these children work towards their future and a better world for us all.”

"Montessori education demands that the trained adults who work with children and teens remove all obstacles that might stifle a young person’s natural learning process. There is a sort of ‘disappearing act’ that the teacher performs in the classroom—not in terms of presence, or ensuring safety, or appropriate supervision—but certainly in terms of fostering each child’s independence and self-directedness with classroom exploration and discovery. The classroom, its materials, and the learning possibilities, are accessible to the children and teens. The adult is, therefore, a facilitator of learning and not a sort of “vessel” from which all knowledge is imparted. 
Thus, by the very nature of our role in the classroom, teachers don’t ‘stand out’ per se—nor are our teachers ever trying to deviate from the pedagogy they are trained to implement. The teachers at CMS aim to become the ‘selfless teacher,’ rather than a teacher that stands out in any way.” —Robb Wirts, Head of School