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Our thoughts on Montessori and education

M.Ed. Program now enrolling

The Institute for Educational Studies, in affiliation with Van Loan School at Endicott College, is now accepting applications for Fall 2019 cohorts.



Help! Can you offer record keeping tips?

Dear Ask a Montessorian, I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I know that observation and record keeping are very important, but there is so much to do at the beginning of the school year.  I want to start off with good habits.  What do you recommend?

My first year in a primary classroom was like my first day at ballet school: stand up tall, point your toes, look up, smile! So much to remember!

Except it was more like: speak clearly, lay out the materials just so, handle every situation with grace and courtesy, track each student’s progress, interpret every child’s unique needs, organize your records, communicate with parents, present at parent education nights, conferences… and follow, follow, follow the child!

Plié and repeat.

It was exhausting keeping in step with a new routine. I began seeking help from other Montessorians and outside resources. What I found most helpful was the power of observation—visiting other classrooms and seeing the examples I wished to be. Much like we remind the children to stop and breathe deeply, as teachers should also take time to sit still and simply notice. The classroom is naturally a busy place, so observation is key. It was difficult to do my number one job of ‘following the child,’ without making the time to watch the development unfolding. 

Montessori Guidance:  An experienced Montessori guide gave me a great tip: You spend your day tracking student progress, making important notes, and dealing with difficult situations. So, take the time each day, maybe during lunch, or at a quiet point in the afternoon to write down three things that went well for you. It could be something like: “Circle time went smoothly and we arrived on the playground on time today.” Or it could be heartwarming: ”After a challenging morning, Tommy created an apology note and flower arrangement for his friend.” These notes of gratitude kept my spirits up and motivated me to keep conducting observation notes. I soon was able to make the day to day clerical work more routine and easier to manage. The more student record keeping I did throughout the day, the less stress I felt during conference season and parent communications. 

Outside Resources:  It was in fact, trial and error before I found a record keeping method that worked best for me. What was most helpful was an online system. It allowed me to quickly input student information without taking my attention from the classroom. I could do everything in one place: take attendance, track student lessons, analyze student progress, automatically plan lessons, schedule on a calendar, upload pictures and videos, communicate with parents, generate reports, and file important records. My iPad, smaller than a clip-board, was surprisingly discreet and convenient to use in the classroom. I also took advantage of the resource library which includes hundreds of lesson demonstrations, assistant training and parent education videos. I also used Montessori community-based sites like wikisori.org for lesson extension ideas or to print three-part cards for new lesson ideas as well.

While it may sometimes feel like you are doing a solo performance in the classroom, it is important to slow down and follow the beat of the child. Reminding yourself there are support systems all around you. Most importantly, find gratitude each day for a job well done.

Anna Cook holds her Masters in Early Childhood and Primary Childhood Montessori certificate. She has worked as a Montessori guide in Pittsburgh, PA and Charlottesville, VA. She currently has established a Montessori, home based Toddler program within her community.

Conference Opportunities

For the Montessori conferences are below, CGMS Instructors are encouraged to submit proposals for workshops.  CGMS Adult Learners (former and current) who would like to attend a conference and live within 1-2 hours of event may also contact us to staff an exhibitor table.  Participation expenses are reimbursed.


Montessori Alliance of Tennessee annual conference, September 27-28.  Nashville, TN.

South Carolina Montessori Alliance annual conference, October 11-12.  Columbia, SC.  Vendor table representative needed.

Montessori Association of North Carolina annual conference, October 19.  Charlotte, NC.  Vendor table representative needed.

Wisconsin Montessori Association annual conference, November 2, Madison, WI.

Montessori Foundation annual conference, November 8-11, 2019.  Sarasota, FL.



Montessori Schools of Massachusetts, January 11, 2020.  Franklin, MA.

University of Wisconsin Conference, January 11, 2020.  University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Utah Montessori Council annual conference, February 7-8, 2020, Salt Lake City.  

Association of Illinois Montessori Schools, February 21-22, 2020.

Montessori Educational Programs International, February 28-March 1, 2020, Kiawah Island Resort.

New Jersey Montessori Association Council, March, 2020, Edison, NJ.

Cincinnati Montessori Society, March 21, 2020.  Proposals accepted through September 25.

Children Change the World Montessori Conference, Look for an April, 2020 date soon, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Southeast Montessori Collective annual conference, April 24-25, 2020, Greater Atlanta, Georgia.

Montessori Association of Colorado, Look for a May, 2020 date soon, Denver, Colorado.

Montessori for Social Justice, date and location to be announced.


For help finding proposal information or if a deadline has passed, please contact RKincaid@GuidedStudies.com

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