IMS 2018-23 Academic Strategy Summary
2nd 5-year Strategic Plan: 2018-2023 - Academic Strategy Summary
December 21, 2017
Island Montessori has made remarkable academic progress in its first five years, and while we have established an amazing foundation, we should never be complacent when it comes to the education of our children. Below is a summary of some of the major initiatives we hope to fund and accomplish over the next few years (read the full 2018-23 Strategic plan - review draft). Our goal is to make Island Montessori ACADEMICALLY EXCELLENT AND UNIQUELY BETTER. We will also be hosting an Academic Strategy Presentation + Parent Q&A on Tuesday, February 27th. We hope you will read, contemplate, attend, and consider an ongoing monetary investment in your children’s future.
Investment in Advanced Teacher Education
Over our first five years, Island Montessori has been fortunate to have a strong and stable faculty with all of our teachers receiving their basic Montessori training. During the coming years, we aspire to provide them with the next level of Montessori education.
The Montessori Method is not an ancient text etched in stone. In fact, its guiding principle of following the student allows it to be the most flexible, innovative, and evolving of the educational philosophies. There is a lot of thought, research, and reimagining going on in the global Montessori community and it is important we keep up with those advancements. In addition to attending conferences, this includes bringing in expert speakers and consultants, cooperative visits with other best-in-class Montessori schools, and individualized teacher training in advanced math and reading. It’s cliché to say our teachers are our most valuable resource, but it is a true cliché. Investment in our teachers directly impacts the education our children receive in the classroom.
Investment in Academic Programming
The next step after investment in teacher education is investment in resources to improve and refine our academic programming. Over the next few years, we’d like to focus on the following:
Ignite our mathematic curriculum. We choose “ignite” to describe this initiative because metaphorically all the conceptual kindling is in place. We’ve done a good job of teaching foundational mathematics in terms of orders of operation and small abstract operations. The next step is the very Montessori concept of applying that abstract learning to solve real world challenges. We call these big works. An example of a big work might be a project designing and building a house, with all the planning, geometry, and calculations that go into such an endeavor.
Enhance our language arts curriculum emphasizing creative writing, expository writing, interpretive reading and literature, and research. Like mathematics, once the basic concepts are mastered, real world applications of these communication skills are emphasized in terms of researching and forming an opinion, learning to explain it persuasively, and ultimately expressing and presenting it. An example of such a project might be a field a trip to a landfill where the student is astonished by the amount of plastic she sees and feels compelled to write the Governor a letter suggesting a course of action.
Strengthen our Specials programs by providing better training and more materials.
Integration of North Carolina Virtual Public School curriculum for advanced students and advanced topics. NCVPS is an amazing new resource that enables schools to offer complementary curriculum and opportunities (which smaller schools might otherwise not be able to provide).
Development of clubs, hobby groups, and sports and participation in outreach groups like the Montessori Model United Nations.
Investment in Technology
Our technology to date has centered around the Google for Education Platform. We chose it because Chromebooks are affordable, easy to manage, and offer a wide variety of educational programs and tools. However, most of the really good Montessori apps are offered on the iOS (i.e. Apple iPad) and Windows platforms. Maria Montessori was an innovator of education in the late 19th century and many believe she would be a strong advocate of using the amazing new tools of the early 21st century. We consider the use of apps, and technology in general, as “works” in the Montessori classroom, complementary tools that help develop critical thinking. Our goal in the next few years is to invest significantly in laptops, a computer lab, iPads, and Montessori apps.
Technology innovation is also having an impact on the backend systems that help teachers plan and organize, evaluate students and guide them to optimal resources, and increase their overall efficiency. Every minute we free up for a teacher (our most valuable resource) means another minute they can spend teaching. We took a good first step forward with the adoption of NWEA last year and we have identified a number of additional tools we’d like to invest in to continue improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our teachers.
Investment in our Montessori Environment
Dr. Montessori espoused that a clean and uncluttered environment was key to a child’s learning. In fact, new research from Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute confirms what Maria Montessori knew over a century ago, that an uncluttered environment increases the mind’s ability to focus and process information. Island Montessori could certainly benefit by investing in improved storage for materials not currently in use.
As we all know, classroom materials are essential components of Montessori education. Montessori materials are expensive! As a new school with limited funds, we were fortunate to start with a good basic set of materials. However, many of those original materials are now starting to show their age and need replacing. Additionally, there are many valuable Montessori materials that we’ve never been able to afford and would greatly benefit our students, namely cultural materials such as the
cosmic boxes and advanced botany and geography materials.
Lastly, Island Montessori School is fortunate to have a large campus with ample space for outdoor experiences. Maria Montessori stated that the hands are the extension of the mind - and there is much neuroscience research that indicates interaction with outdoor environments stimulates neurons to promote a learning frame of mind. Imagine a sensory garden with flowers and smells and rocks and sticks and bees and butterflies around the perimeter of the playground. Imagine an outdoor classroom/theatre with a network of nature trails in the nearly four acres of woods behind the school that we have yet to utilize. Imagine what that would do for our students!
It’s not possible without you!
Thank you for taking the time to read and contemplate our ambitious goals. Our children are worth the hundreds of hours and every ounce of our love, sweat, and tears that went into articulating this vision. We hope you agree and will consider an ongoing monetary investment in your children’s future. If you would like to contribute, please visit www.im.school/donate.