10 Essential Back to School Tips for Montessori Teachers 2022 – 2023
When Montessori teachers go back to school this year, being prepared can make days less stressful. The first few weeks in a classroom are often consumed by management of children’s separation anxiety, by teaching how to roll and unroll rugs, and by other classroom organizational issues. But taking time during the first weeks to review and plan ahead will prevent a year’s worth of last-minute scrambles. Ease the burden of these hectic first school days and look over the tips below to get your routine and classroom at its best.
1. Revisit Classroom Design
Do you have a high energy group this year with a lot of runners? Ask yourself how shelving and tables could be positioned to shorten any spaces that resemble runways. Is work time unbalanced? Are students all working in groups or all working individually? Think about how tables can be set up in subject areas to create balance. During these first few weeks, don’t be afraid to move furniture around if you notice problems.
2. Review Materials
Keep an inventory list along with complicated materials so you know which pieces are missing or low on replacements. Also, stock up on seasonal materials, like items for sorting work in Practical Life and Sensorial. Other areas often have seasonal changes, as well, like science, art, and even the Language area. Stocking up on simple supplies like dried beans, colored sand, and pompoms can make switching out work easier. Lastly, ask yourself if there are any gaps in the materials that could be filled with a homemade version? Websites like teacherspayteachers.com offer Montessori-geared downloadables created by other teachers for a low fee.
3. Stay Up-To-Date on COVID Procedures
Be aware of how the virus is trending in your area and check in with your school’s administration every once in a while to see if they are considering new safety protocols.
4. Set-Up Your Recordkeeping System
Montessori teachers are all about observation. Be sure to have a system set that makes it easy to jot down which student has completed what work in different subject areas. Some schools require teachers to use a specific platform or recordkeeping system. If one way of recordkeeping isn’t working for you, try another or talk to your administration about the limitations of the assigned system.
5. Welcome New Families
New families might need extra attention, especially to understand the Montessori curriculum and the materials their child works with every day. Suggest simple books like Montessori for Every Family: A Practical Parenting Guide to Living, Loving, and Learning by Tim Seldin and Lorna McGrath or The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies. Videos like Montessori in Action by Nienhuis offer parents an in-depth dive into the curriculum.
6. Prep Circle Time
Having a well-stocked, read-aloud collection and songs queued eases the pressure of chaotic days. Keep a few crowd-pleasing rhyming books in your materials closet along with any favorite CDs or, if streaming, be sure the classroom playlist is ready to go. For older classrooms, prepare a list of fallback topics and group games. Check out the New York Public Library’s suggested back to school books.
7. Keep Clear Communication Channels
There are so many ways to communicate nowadays from emails to texts to phone calls. Let parents know how the school will communicate with them and keep clear communication with other teachers. Knowing the appropriate channels in advance will clear up any confusion if an emergency situation arises.
8. Set Professional Goals
Don’t go overboard! Pick out one workshop or webinar to attend to keep a forward momentum. Check out AMS Learning to get started.
9. Create a Self-Care Routine
With so many students to take care of, self-care can be the last thing on your mind when you get home. Take some time to create realistic self-care routines like going to the gym and cooking healthy meals. Talk to your doctor about what changes you can make that would benefit your health.
10. Build Your Support System
Know who you can count on to watch your classroom if a child gets sick and in other situations. Keep open communication with your assistant or co-teacher and work out who will be responsible for what in an emergency. Also, learn who are your go-to parent volunteers.
Not everything can be planned, but having an environment well-prepped with routines creates a solid foundation that supports the entire classroom. Creating an environment that supports childrens’ work and routines makes transition times smooth and can help the classroom reach that incredible normalized period where everyone is in the flow.
About the Author
V. Kulikow is a former Montessori teacher and youth services librarian. She currently works as a UX designer and enjoys content creation both with words and images. On weekends you can find her gardening, taking nature photos, and working on her garden design certification through the Native Plant Trust.