Meghan Moxon is a 1st-2nd grade lead teacher at Macomb Montessori Academy.
What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?
In our classroom, we create our own personal goals. We utilize a data wall to give students a visual of the overall success of the classroom. Students feel intrinsically motivated to help the classroom’s goals grow, as well as their own personal goals. I also try to use my verbiage in a way that has students feel good about their progress for themselves as opposed to outside gratification. Ex. “You should be so proud of yourself!”
How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?
Expectations are something that are talked about, modeled and practiced daily. Although we go over the expectations heavily in the beginning of the year, it’s important to remind them that they are held accountable every day. I also praise students who are being great examples. This way, students seek the positive attention and hold each other to the social contract we’ve created together.
Your students seem to take an active part in the classroom. In what ways are they active in their learning?
It’s important that students are involved in meaningful activities and have freedom of choice and movement. This summer when designing my classroom, I researched flexible seating and continue to give my students the power to choose their seat. Students can sit on yoga balls, work at a standing table, sit on floor pillows, etc.
I also allow students to take the lead in learning. Students lead their own morning meetings and help monitor each other through conflict resolution in our peace corner. Students share their work at designated times to help with collaborating different ideas.
With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?
Students are expected to problem solve and discuss their thinking in groups, turn and talks, classroom jobs, and classroom buddies. Although Montessori students focus on independent work, it is discussed that working with others is a practical life skill so I aim to include this as well.
In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?
The family-like atmosphere starts with me on day one. Students observe how I interact and build relationships with them, which reflects into their own relationships. We meet as a group every morning, greet each other, share with one another and participate in one energizing activity. I also noticed how many of my students responded positively to music. We earn brain breaks and get to dance to songs they all know, which unites them on a community level. Lastly, I always try to pull a mixed small group of kids once a week to eat lunch with me for a “family meal”. It is a time we all learn more about each other.
What’s the ‘secret ingredient’?
Trust. Understand where your kids come from. Take time to learn more about your kids. Developing deep relationships is a huge time commitment and process. I’m lucky. Because I’m a Montessori teacher, I get some returning students each year. It helps build a strong level of trust. If you say you’re going to do something, making sure you follow through on that promise. They respect the consistency.
How do you keep your students interested in learning?
Utilizing multiple platforms to teach certain subjects or topics. For example, in math, students use Montessori works, computers, small groups, whole group, and individualized work. It’s also important to keep things relative to them. Listening to their interests and tying it into their learning helps keep their interest. And of course – get them up and moving!
How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?
Every morning, we have a word problem of the day. Students practice mental math skills and solve for the problem. Afterwards, students share in a discussion circle on how they came to their answer. Many times students discover their peers solved a problem differently than them, but still arrived at the correct answer. I’m also careful to be aware that I add many open ended questions to my lessons. I encourage conversation in constructive ways.