Madeline Fiore is a Preschool and Kindergarten lead teacher at Battle Creek Montessori Academy.
What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?
My students are motivated to aim for success because they know the expectations of the classroom. The work plans keep them motivated and on-task as a visual representation of their progress. They like to show off work they have completed and hang it up for others to see.
How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?
I remind my students of my expectations by going over them every day in our morning meeting. Even though they are preschool and kindergarten students, I talk to them like adults, and they respond appropriately when they know they are being held accountable for their work and their actions.
Your students seem to take an active part in the classroom. In what ways are they active in their learning?
They are active in their learning by being able to choose which work they would like to work on, where in the classroom they would like to take it, and if they want to modify it and try it a new way, after completed as shown in a lesson first. We encourage creativity and the results can be amazing. Sometimes students have the best ideas and suggestions for the classroom, and become engaged in their learning when they know they have a voice.
With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?
We incorporate teamwork in our classroom every day. My older students are so helpful when it comes to giving a lesson to a younger child, helping them get ready for recess, and even walking them to the bathroom. Working independently is important at times, but all of our students are very sweet and work so well together. We also have classroom jobs that rotate every week. That keeps us working together and helps us hold each other accountable. If we can’t all work together, the classroom will not run smoothly.
In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?
We build a family-like atmosphere in our classroom by using grace and courtesy lessons, and treating each other with respect. The peace rose is a crucial part of peaceful problem solving and avoiding conflict. This teaches students to listen to each other and talk about their feelings. We have many parents that come in and volunteer, which is fun for the students as well.
What’s the ‘secret ingredient’?
The secret ingredient to a well-run classroom is trust. You must be able to trust your students and not micro-manage them. In return, they must be able to trust you to always want the best for them.
How do you keep your students interested in learning?
I keep them interested in learning by making sure I have things on my shelves that they like. I know some of them love planets and dinosaurs, therefore I find resources online that provide interesting and high depth of knowledge work.
How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?
Creativity and innovation are used in our classroom by letting a student work with materials as they see fit, after they have performed it the way they were shown. My assistant and I are always thinking of new ways to use the materials to differentiate learning, based on the students and which level they are at.