Teacher Spotlight: Allison Goroni from Creative Montessori Academy

Allison Goroni is a 1st-3rd Grade Teacher at Creative Montessori Academy.

In what ways do you implement technology within your classroom?
In 1st-3rd grade, we are just starting to use technology independently. Our goal for the year is to be able to log on without assistance. We also work on finding Word and an internet browser independently. This usually takes the first few months of school. Once we have this mastered, the students work in Word playing with the features so that they are comfortable with them. They also can get themselves onto educational websites like: Study Island, Raz-Kids, Starfall, ABCya, etc. We use a lot of technology as a research tool. The students have been working their way through different countries every few weeks where they need to look up facts. They also use it to complete science work and skyscrapers.

What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?
The kids are excited to use the Montessori materials and set personal goals for themselves. I just encourage them to reach the goals they set for themselves as well as the goals I set for them. We also have a marble jar. The jar gets filled based on what the students do on their work plan for the week. The marble jars fills as fast as the student’s motivation. The students love to help me count the marbles on Friday and are excited to see their progress from the week.

How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?
I honestly do not have to remind my students of my expectations. They are very aware of their job each day and get right to work without prompting from me. In fact, if I need to alter the day at all, I have to tell them as they are walking in the door. Otherwise, they are already working before I can address the whole group.

In what ways do you use the Montessori materials to aid in the development of each individual child?
My room runs like a typical Montessori room. Each morning is devoted to the student’s individualized work plan. Each child has a work plan unique to them. This was modeled at the beginning of the school year and we repeat the lessons whenever needed. Most of the students are able to teach other students about advanced materials because they know how to use the materials so efficiently. We also use Albanesi cards for both math and geometry. Phonics is a collection of the pink/blue/green material and object bags that help to reach the Common Core State Standards. I work to blend CCSS and Montessori lessons for both science and social studies which we work on during the afternoon.

With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?
I do not think you can have an independent classroom without teamwork. The students rely on each other for everything. We team up to work on research, experiments, reading, and much more. The older students are always working to help the younger students. The students know to go to a friend for help before asking the teacher. Our class truly loves to be together. Even at recess, they tend to play with each other rather than other students from different classes. We talk about creating life-long friends within our classroom.

In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?
Our class is very close to each other. Many of the students are Legacy Students, meaning that they have been with us since Kindergarten. We also have many students that are blood relatives. I take an interest in their home lives and maintain constant contact with many of my parents. I also share my life with the students. They know all about my four children, my husband, and even my best friend. I share with them and in turn they share with me.

What’s your secret ingredient?
My secret ingredient is my assistant Heather. She is fully on board with whatever crazy ideas I come up with! A Montessori classroom has to have two dedicated people in it. Each student has their own work plan. That means there are potentially 28 lessons that will need to be taught each day, one per student. Each day, Heather and I are both on the floor teaching lessons and making sure the students stay on task. She is also the creative one. I always remind her that whatever she wants to create or do for the students, I will help make it happen! I truly believe my classroom is so awesome because Heather is so willing to go above and beyond.

How does the Montessori method prepare students for the future?
The Montessori Method prepares our students for the future because it prepares them for the real world. Montessori students learn why they are doing something instead of just memorizing. The Montessori Method teaches students to think and walk through something. A Montessori teacher is also seen as a guide and not a lecturer. Parents were so concerned about the implementation of Common Core State Standards. Honestly though, the CCSS are about thinking independently, and that is what Montessori does. I always tell parents concerned about Common Core, that Montessori is Common Core.

How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?
We let kids explore. If they want to try something new we help to encourage it. If they think they have a better way to teach it, I let them become the teacher! I once was teaching a lesson about graphing. I told the students they had to ask the other students their birthdays. Of course it got confusing and loud. I had a student come up to me and say he thought it would work better if we did what he was thinking. I told him to go ahead and do it, so he organized the class and got the work done efficiently. Not only did he take over the teaching, he made sure the 1st graders and some of the lower students stayed on task and on the same section as the rest of the class.