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Our thoughts on Montessori and education

CGMS Residential Sessions 2019

Fun, Learning, and Community!

It is hard to believe our summer residential season is more than halfway complete. Our July sessions are in full swing and wrapping up soon.  Our dedicated faculty and beautiful host schools have provided wonderful learning environments for an amazing group of adult learners who have brought enthusiasm and passion to the residential experience. Below are a few photos from some of our sessions. Look for more photos in the next newsletter as well!

Elementary work cycle, Indianapolis, above

Infant – Toddler group in Wesley Chapel, FL, above

Making Mobiles, above

Food Preparation, above



Early Childhood, Morrisville, NC, above

Above, the North Carolina Elementary group was out of this world!


Elementary Material Making: Early Human Models in Indiana, above

Elementary Material Making: Beaded Daily cycle in Alexandria, LA, above


Below, Secondary Project Presentations!

Secondary residential sessions were held in Morrisville, NC and New Albany, Indiana.  Their residential projects included creating a farmer’s market and individual museum projects.



Above, Secondary Community Building and Keeping those Secondary people in line!

Summer R&R Webinar Series Continues

CGMS invites you to review and renew this summer with our new summer webinar series. Each webinar will have two 90-minute sessions and will be lead by CGMS instructors and some guest presenters. There is something for everyone and every level.

Webinar Fees are reasonable with discounts for current CGMS certification students and graduates.

  • Two Day Webinar Fee: $85 for general public/ $65 for CGMS students and graduates
  • $5 discount for each participant when enrolling two or more from the same school
  • $5 discount for enrolling in more than one Summer Webinar!

Register as a CGMS student or graduate  or, select General Registration


 Imagine That!  Montessori’s work on Art and Imagination

August 1 and 8, 2019, at 7:00 pm EDT.  For Early Childhood and Lower EL Teachers

Webinar Facilitator: Jana Morgan Herman

Unleash creativity in your classroom, the Montessori Way! In this two-session webinar we will review Montessori’s writings on art and imagination and learn how to bring it into and our classrooms in a purposeful way. We will explore the seven elements of art and how they are built into the Montessori materials you already have.  Plus, there will be many examples of art lessons with instructions on how you can set up your environment in ways that will promote true artistic expression as well as creative storytelling. In between the two sessions, you will work on your own fun creative project to help you implement what you have learned. 

Jana serves CGMS as an Online Instructor, Residential Session Instructor, Field Consultant and Practicum Advisor.  She holds a Master’s degree in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University, and received her Early Childhood Montessori Credential (MACTE/AMS, MTEC San Fransisco) in 1997.Jana is a Teacher Educator in US and Asia. She has taught at the Early Childhood and Elementary level and is currently the Head of a small Montessori school in Kentucky.  Learn more.


“Practical Life: It’s Elementary My Dear!”

August 1 and 8, 2019, at 6:30 pm EDT.  For Elementary I and II Teachers.  

Webinar Facilitator: Tammy Oesting

A hallmark of Montessori 3-6 classrooms is the extensive exercises for daily living, the practical part of the curriculum that prepares children to care for themselves and their environment.  But did you know how important Practical Life is for your 6-12 year old students?

Montessori teacher educator Tammy Oesting delivers an engaging two-part webinar that reveals the purpose behind elementary Practical Life exercises providing innovative ideas for engaging your students with hand work, service projects, and a unique aspect of a Montessori elementary program: Going Out.  With a foundation on the developmental needs and interests of your students, you will learn how to plan for and implement a rich Practical Life culture in your 6-12 learning environment.  

  Tammy Oesting, cofounder of Montessori professional development company ClassrooMechanics has been educating adults in Montessori for 20 years. Her passions include issues of social justice, training support staff, art education, neuroscience and education, and life sciences (AMS credential Early Childhood, Elementary I-II).   Learn more.


Freeing the Human Potential:  Reflections on the Art and Science of Being with Infants and Toddlers

Tuesdays, Aug. 6 and 13, 2019 at 7:00 EDT.  For Infant and Toddler Teachers

Webinar Facilitator: Mercedes Castle

Over the course of two sessions we will get grounded in environments, environmental design and curriculum. We will take into account current research and how we might look to other alternative pedagogies and evaluate the appropriateness of integrating principles from RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers and Reggio/Reggio inspired schools) into our Montessori environments and curriculum. We’ll discuss how the teacher is a learner, using observations to inform curriculum planning and environmental design. In our second session, we’ll talk leadership, renewal and growth. Using resources like ‘The Tao of Montessori’ and ‘The Resilient Practitioner’ we will talk spiritual preparation of the guide, setting intentions, and being prepared to welcome our tiniest friends this fall. 

Topics covered will include preparing an environment for learning using nature as a universal aesthetic; developing a responsive curriculum; becoming an observer and putting it into practice; being a leader in the classroom; and-Spiritual preparation through reflective practice. 

Mercedes is the Head of School at Portland Montessori Collaborative and the founder, director, and lead guide at All Roads Learning Community from 2003-2012. Mercedes holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and a B.A. in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She holds an Infant and Toddler Montessori Teaching Credential from the American Montessori Society. Mercedes is an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. She also completed the RIE Foundations course in fall, 2013. Mercedes is a public speaker, course instructor, consultant, mentor teacher, and Montessori Advocate.   Learn more.

 Register as a CGMS student or graduate  or, select General Registration

Announcing the new CGMS Administrator’s Certificate

Announcing the new CGMS Montessori Educational Leadership Credential

New program to prepare school heads to lead highly successful Montessori schools

The Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS), long known for being the first accredited low-residency teacher certification program, is pleased to announce that we are about to launch our new training program for heads of Montessori schools.

As with our other programs, the Leadership Credential will be a blend of the best of online learning with a single, short on-site residency. CGMS has designed this program to exceed the anticipated standards of the upcoming MACTE Leadership accreditation standard.

The new Leadership Credential, to launch on October 14, 2019, will help school heads reach excellence, whether they be private schools, public, or charter. The program has components tailored for both those with more Montessori experience than business, as well as for others who are less familiar with Montessori pedagogy than they are with the business side. 

Designed in collaboration with the Montessori Foundation, the Leadership program has been built in a modular format so that it can best be tailored to meet participants where they are. Each module includes material from many passionate expert Montessori school leaders with decades of experience running successful schools.

Participants should expect to work 10 hours a week, and have access to hundreds of resources such as videos and reading materials. The program will be about 16 months long, from start to finish and cost $8,600. Initial enrollees for the first cohort starting October 14 will only pay $6600 (plus some professional fees). CGMS does offer a range of payment options and plans.

During this 16 month program, participants will also perform a practicum internship in a Montessori school, their own or another. They will continue their online studies during this practicum phase, enabling learners to ground their theory with examples from their working lives and then receive quick feedback from instructors and fellow students in weekly live video classes.

As with all CGMS programs, students will learn in collaborative online groups, working together under the close guidance of experienced teacher trainers. Our students can watch training presentations over and over again at their own pace, and even get to share and critique their own presentations with other students and their instructional guide. Collaborative case studies will allow students to share insights and learn from each other as they examine complex issues from different perspectives.

Topics will include:

  •       Leadership from a Montessori Perspective
  •       Faculty & Human Resources
  •       School Leadership & Governing Bodies
  •       Educational Program & Survey of Montessori Education
  •       School Finance
  •       Marketing, Building Enrollment & Community
  •       Fundraising
  •       Facility management
  •       Buying and selling a school
  •       Starting a private school
  •       Starting a public or charter program
  •       Working with boards and other stakeholders
  •       Best practices for public Montessori programs

 CGMS has a commitment for continuous support for adult learners and schools to assure success. Please contact us to find out more!


From the Editor, August 2019


During the weeks leading to August 31, schools all over the world will celebrate Dr. Maria Montessori’s birthday.  As we reflect on the almost 150th year of the revered scientist and educator, perhaps the most authentic way to honor her legacy can be found at a school in Bangalore, India.  The team at Diya Ghar Montessori school bring migrant workers’ children to a nurturing, prepared environment as an alternative to working or playing at their parents’ construction sites.  In reading the article about this program, the famous images of the original San Lorenzo Casa dei Bambini came to mind, but this time aided by the present day pictures of the Diya Ghar children holding construction tools, then of them happily working in their classroom. 

In the US, a coworking program brings Montessori to its members’ children while serving the community using Montessori principles, another iteration that directly serves the unique needs of a neighborhood.  Read in this issue about the inspiring work that the Diya Ghar and Nido teams are doing in their communities, and you’ll too be encouraged to see Dr. Montessori’s original task being lived out today, and perhaps more deeply understand what sparked her to pursue the invaluable work of guiding young children.


Help! I didn’t do that in my training!

“Dear Ask a Montessorian, I’ve been teaching for five years with roughly the same staff.  Next year, two new leads and one new assistant will join our staff, and they are trained at institutes that are quite different than mine.  We’ve already had a few conversations that start with, ‘in my training, we don’t…’ and I’m worried that we’ll have more differences than likenesses when the school year begins.  What do you recommend to not confuse fellow staff, students and parents this year?”


I recall in my early years as a Montessori teacher how I was confused and stressed about how teachers from different training institutes implemented Montessori in the classroom. I would compare our practices, constantly looking for answers. I often asked myself, ‘are they right, or am I?… Is my training superior or inferior to theirs?’ I used to review my Montessori albums and ask others from my training about this, seeking clarity and affirmation that I was ‘doing it right.’ Gradually, though, I began to understand how to adjust my thinking and avoid being judgmental. I learned to explain and demonstrate practices as I understood them, and I became more willing to ask about the rationale of others.

I have had the opportunity to work in many different countries, and with teachers who have been trained from various training centers. Fostering a Montessori approach in the classroom takes a lot of practice, no matter the country nor the training institute. I have observed even how the Montessori approach is adopted to suit the culture and religious beliefs of the students based on their country and region. All of the Guides I’ve worked with have been well versed in Montessori philosophy, despite differences in training.

It’s important to discuss with co-teachers and colleagues the differences you observe, not to point out differences, but to seek clarification and understanding of their rationale. Share ideas and collaborate with colleagues to improve and enrich the environment and your students’ experience. We as teachers are there to foster excitement, curiosity and the child’s love for education. Being flexible and open to doing things differently in certain circumstances, you will find, will be necessary. I once took over a Children’s House class and most of the children were in their second and third year. The previous teacher had a very different training than mine, and as you might imagine, the children were accustomed to her methods and routines.  If I had immediately imposed lessons in ‘my way,’ the children would have been quite confused. I had discussed this with the outgoing teacher and learned about her philosophy, practice and routines. I liked some (and frankly disliked most) but I had to be flexible for the benefit of the children and their expectations. I had to take small steps, slowly and gradually introducing change with as little disruption to the children as possible.

As Montessori teachers, our goal is to provide a peaceful learning environment. We take much time and effort to prepare the environment for learning. With this in mind, isn’t it an advantage to get ideas from other Montessori teachers?  We follow the same philosophy and have the same goals, but may take different paths in presenting and sequencing lessons and choosing various programs. For example, one school or training may  present cursive first and another, manuscript.  One might utilize a different language program than another. This doesn’t mean that if you only have experience in one that you cannot understand, adapt to, or even adopt, another.

Create a co-teaching relationship with colleagues. Embrace new ideas and intentionally incorporate them in your classroom. Be open to look and listen. Find a balance that suits your classroom. Use observation, inquiry and different techniques to help children who might benefit from it.  In this way, be truthful to Montessori while following the core principles. I even invite teachers from other classrooms who have different training to come and give a presentation to my class. This way even children understand that the same concept or activity can be done in more than one way.

Welcome new staff members and share and learn from each other. If changes have to be made, make them gradually, so that children are able to adjust and there is little burden on parents and other staff. Be excited to have new staff that will bring with them their own training and new ideas.

In my experience of working with these differences, I have gained immense satisfaction and knowledge throughout the years. I have become more confident to work in any Montessori setting. I have learned to accept changes and to be able to use variations that suit the children I work with. In fact, I get very curious and excited to see things done differently. My passion for teaching and Montessori has taken new horizons with this new outlook. There have been times I have tried giving a certain lesson to a child several times with no success. I have watched my colleagues do the same lesson a bit differently, this time with success.  It didn’t matter who’s training was ‘superior’ in that moment– all that mattered was that I was following Montessori principles and that the child learned the lesson, rendering him more independent than before.

My advice is to show respect and seek to understand when things are done differently. Don’t let little differences stand in the way of the growth of the children, the school and yourself. We are the instruments that help mold the formative years of life of the children we work with. Let’s make it a happy and peaceful environment for them to grow and flourish.

Shyamini Monaco is AMI certified with over 20 years of experience in Montessori education. She has taught in Dubai, UAE and Milan, Italy prior to moving to the United States. Shayamini currently serves as Children’s House Lead Guide at Renaissance Montessori in North Carolina.