Jill Dianne’s statement
Modern Academy Cancun (MAcC) was an opportunity for me professionally like none other. Of particular importance and uplift was the cohesiveness between my coworker Carmen Bravo and myself. As well, I received a blessing in having my Director, Teresita Leimer, be a like-minded Montessorian. (Articles she has written are included in the Resources page.) Both Ms. Carmen and Ms. Teresita are passionate educators that shared inspiration and joy in the unique vision of MAcC. I celebrate it and share it here with you as it is an example of Transformed Education ideas.
Through Mac, I was able to see the benefit of innovative, personalized learning. It offered an educational pathway merged with the best of Montessori materials, technology, the arts, sports, nutrition, nature, culture, multi-ages school wide events, neurofeedback and brain-based learning, project-based learning, gardening, caring for animals, and trust in the professional capacity of the teachers.
Take a pictorial peek into our 1 and 2 classroom experience.
With special thanks to my partner Carmen Bravo and the magic of her loving connection.
A Call for Education to touch the Spirit within:
A Look into the Curriculum in 1 and 2 C at Modern Academy Cancun:
By Ms. Jill Dianne and Ms. Carmen
Educate the Heart as well as the Mind:
A leading thinker in Transforming Education is Sir Ken Robinson. He invites us to recognize that many present systems in place in schools are based upon rating according to a standardization based in conformity. Instead, he makes a call for diversity: thinking outside of the box. Robinson points out that we are poised upon a stage of coming revolution in order to have life sustained upon our planet. Yet, because of the conformity, most people have no idea of what they are capable of. My experience at Modern Academy Cancun (MAcC) was something truly different.
MAcC embraces a philosophy that unifies heart and mind, celebrates diversity, provides individualized pathways of learning, integrates the Arts into core content, utilizes technology as a resource and creative tool and cultivates intra and interpersonal connection. This blog provide a window into this educational world that has truly been a highlight in my professional life. I would like to especially acknowledge by co-teacher, Carmen Bravo, for the tremendous inspiration and innovation, love and passion that she integrated into our classroom. I hold this school, and our classroom, as a model in actualizing the ideas of Transformed Education.
Social/Emotional Intelligence: The important role of Joy
Recognize that what it truly means to be a person includes both feeling and knowing. When we do this, JOY enters the educational context. Joy is a vibration connected with Love. It is a state of being connected to our higher self and our community. It is the gateway to higher levels of energy and to our higher development. When joyful, our powers and capabilities blossom. Just like the physical body being nourished by food and drink, the soul is nourished by joy. Choosing to cultivate Joy is a choice towards nurturing ourselves, our relationships and our connection to the Divine Essence of Life. Through cultivating empathy and connectedness, we invite in the feeling expression of others, helping us to recognize our commonality and the truth of our interconnectedness.
Make Time for Meditation and Silence:
As the Montessori teacher is called to be a guide, so may the educators in traditional education understand the value in knowing when to hold silence. At times, this may be a time of making peace—where the whole classroom finds silence as each student quietly reflects within. At other times, it simply may be through asking a question, and allowing it to sink in. May we recognize that to illicit curiosity and reflection calls for learner’s authentic engagement. Do this by not dominating the environment, not over-talking. Instead, choose to illicit, reflect and guide.
Make Time for Movement:
Feeling the Body activated through Sports and Creative Movement energizes the body, refreshes the mind, and Builds Community
The Peace Table
The Peace Table is a foundational part of any successful Montessori classroom but it is a concept that can also fit into public or private educational classrooms. When implemented to its fullest capability, children are empowered to know how to direct themselves to resolve issues that arise between them by choosing to go to the Peace Table. Through modeling, students learn demonstration of the “talking rose” — passed back and forth to express, listen and reflect, then make a new point; then the other listens and repeats back whats/he hears.
This goes on as long as it needs to to resolve the upset. As a teacher, I can tell you it was of great relief not to feel I had to resolve every single social issue that arose between my students! We can see that emotional/social education is actually a natural part of the playground education time. When we give tools to negotiate through it, everybody wins.
There is a magical energy that can take place in the story telling process. That energy is best cultivated through setting aside a special Time and Place, on a regular schedule, to enjoy unique and artful stories in a relaxed, expressive manner. There are so many wonderful, uplifting, heart-warming stories, with dynamic, detailed, artistic-examples in the illustrations that can help pave the way towards an inspired, unified expressive consciousness. Such stories can bebased within the themes of the Peace Flower: Self, Nature, Community, World.
Theme Examples: —No matter the color of our skin, we all have the same qualities as human beings. How do we choose to share this one world? —How do we differ from animals? — Are we Special? If so, in what way? No matter the particular theme of choice by the educator, start with questions, allow time for reflection, partner students up to have more opportunity to develop their own voices through the process of discussion
Invite in the Arts:
Robinson notes that old models of education have often been built on a division of thinking and feeling. Because of this division, the Arts have occupied the bottom rung of the ladder of achievement with little time to acknowledge the mind/body relationship.
In contrast, at MAcC, integrated the arts in arts-study and also project-based learning tied with areas of personal interest. This connected new learning to a sense of purpose, and to one’s inner world. We integrated movement through sports, play and dance on a regular basis.
Regular classroom teachers need not be professional artists to understand the value in this realm and to have the motivation to share that value with their students. No matter its form: written, visual, kinesthetic, musical/percussive, theatrical, the Arts offer tremendous value in the voyage of first accessing the inner realms, and then expressing them outwardly. By utilizing the Arts in education, we honor and express these realms.
Build relationship with Nature:
Project-Based Learning allowed us to take moments of children’s natural discovery—the birds, or snails on the playground, spiders or butterflies in the garden, planting seeds, bees pollinating—
And use them as catalysts for in-depth research that integrated writing and art in book making and piecing together technological presentations that students were able to present to classmates and parents.
Hands on experiences with items from nature offer an opportunity to build relationship with real-world science. Charting changes in experiments, representing life cycles, noticing and recording inter-relationships within the web of life—all offer opportunity to be excited and involved in scientific foundations more deeply than texts and worksheets.
Honoring the Whole Child
Jill Dianne Bittinger has been a Multicultural Arts Educator for 10 years and Montessori Lead for 15 years. Deeply committed towards a vision of education as a multifold process that must touch hearts as well as minds honoring emotions in the process, she is currently working on a book. Transformed Education: The Role of Soul.