An MSK Collection & Reflection Piece as shared by our teachers’ experiences and observations
- From the Administration side, the health screening forms were changed and updated over 20 times, the temperature checking up to 3 times per day. The storage room full of masks that we could not accommodate anything else to store. The signs posted everywhere of warnings. Covid was not easy. What we required to dress in. The screen barriers everywhere. To be able to watch children see their full expressions again is a much-needed welcome after three long years. And for us to see theirs. Their beautiful smiles. To be able to have them observe the full extent of communication will never be taken for granted.
- Covid was challenging socially, emotionally, and academically for teachers and students alike. Being in a Montessori environment where students collaborated freely with peers, using the materials to strengthen their understanding, and building lifelong skills such as time management was harder to achieve while online. At MSK teachers and students worked tirelessly through online platforms, engaging in “breakout” rooms, and navigating through some amazing online activities to ensure learning and socialization was occurring daily. As we re-entered the classroom students had to learn to socialize with their peers again. Being in an Upper-level classroom I see how much the students missed working with one another. They embraced coming back and fully engaged in their learning. Of course, as an educator, I had to take a step back to ensure that their learning was solid. Being able to work with the same group of students was a blessing as I knew exactly how to help and address each students’ needs. – Mrs. Beros-
- The Covid experience for students, teachers, and parents was not an easy one to navigate. However, with teamwork and much patience, we persevered! Although many students conquered the challenges of online learning, as teachers we are seeing the impact that it had on overall student development. We are now working tirelessly to help our students gain and strengthen the necessary academic skills and work habits that were challenging to achieve online. Through the Covid experience, I learned that some of our greatest challenges as educators end up being some of our greatest blessings in disguise.
- I was amazed at how adaptable everyone was throughout the Pandemic. The teachers, students, and parents had to quickly change from in-class learning to online learning, which was all foreign to us. Our interactive classroom became a virtual classroom where we did not have manipulatives to work with. This whole process really reinforced how important it is for the teacher, the students, and the parents to work together to ensure the safety of everyone in our school community. I was pleasantly surprised to observe that my students did not have any gaps or delays in their learning as we adapted to virtual learning so well.
This year I was so excited to be able to use the Montessori material to enhance the children’s learning. It was a pleasure to see the spark in the children’s eyes again when they were able to work with their peers without having to social distance from one another. This whole experience reinforced the importance of human beings needing to be social and to learn from one another. It also reinforced the importance of children learning with manipulatives and the Montessori material. I am still so amazed and proud of our school community for working as a team to keep our children safe throughout the pandemic.
-Elementary A: Mrs. Sharmila Cappa-
- The whole evolution of the Covid pandemic was a challenging, yet at times, a rewarding period in education. What was the most difficult thing for me was painstakingly packing away many of the beautiful Montessori materials that could not meet the rigors of disinfecting required during the Pandemic. I went through a period of mourning, when teaching had to switch to more paper/pencil activities and the virtual platform just did not connect with the children in the way that I wished it would. Post-Covid, my greatest joy has been to be able to have the full complement of Montessori materials on the shelf and have children resume back to hands-on learning. To see the children’s eyes light up when they begin to understand what a material is teaching them is wonderful to see again! Also watching children work collaboratively with a piece of material and listening to the conversations they spark reground me in the essence of Montessori. The Pandemic did provide me the opportunity to learn many new skills, some of which I continue to use now, and for that I am grateful. I have also been able to witness how resilient children are and reaffirm what Dr. Maria Montessori always said: “Have faith in the child”. – Mrs. Leudke-
- As many saw the Covid19 pandemic as a challenge for the Toddlers, I was so impressed with how well they managed at such a young age. Our little learners engaged in online learning, and it was a huge success. They were able to participate via distance learning through routine circle time, library time and social circles including craft bags that were created for families to bring home. We were so happy when we received the green light to re-open in person. The students were happy to reunite even with their teachers in masks and shields! We managed through the hard times as a TEAM and look back at the hard work put into making our “new normal”, normal again. – Ms. Galati
- Covid was a major transition to what we have been used to all these years. Luckily, we are grateful for how we all were able to adapt to the new normal. Our toddlers during these difficult times were bound to their homes, not being able to explore the wonders of what our world has to offer. Thankfully with the right resources, teamwork, and perseverance we all made it through and learned to adjust to a new chapter. While it was rather difficult to create a learning environment for our young ones with strict boundaries in place, our curious learners proved anything is possible. Separate seating and restrictions within limits, our Toddlers learned to strive towards their own journey of learning. They excelled through online and independent learning within their social circles and we as teachers could not be more amazed by their capabilities. The biggest barrier we believe to have been faced with was providing our Toddlers with language development. We were faced with the element of masks and the unintentional barrier of providing a visual representation of mouth movements, something very crucial at the Toddler age. However, with proper planning and creative visual representations, this was another factor we all found a solution to. Turning the page after Covid was a clear depiction of what the realm of education can provide to eager learners striving towards excellence.
-Ms. Seballos, Ms. Marcelin & Ms. Chi-
- Each area and aspect of the Casa classroom was revamped with the restrictions that were put in place. In keeping health and safety as a priority it was difficult to provide a true Montessori experience with hands-on materials and movement in the classroom. Nevertheless, we persevered and made do with what we could use and created many solutions to ensure learning was able to continue safely.
We navigated having a rotation of materials and shelves to be open and closed daily. A key learning area to use our floor space with work mats was removed and truly limited to an essential learning tool for the Casa students. As important as it was for masking this also came with a cost to language acquisition. Masking created a barrier and limited our young students to see how language is formed, our expressions, the shape of our mouth to form sounds and to hear the proper enunciation of words.
Our classroom library was removed, as books were thought to carry lingering germs and limited in ways to be sanitized, students no longer could work towards having a take home Reader and practice of books with plastic sheets and wiping became tiresome and excessive.
In the short but forever long feeling of just two years of the “modified” Montessori environment it truly showed and proved to me how vital it was to have a classroom fully open and available to our students, to have a full range of choices for work materials and learning, to have our faces and expressions heard clearly, to have freedom to move and choose different seats and spaces for learning, to manipulate and carry “big” work to a floor space.
The return to a normal set up was liberating to say the least this past September. The return to songs and having gather and circle times, read aloud stories, students with books and readers. Notably this school year the number of students who have gained writing and reading skills in the classroom has doubled as compared to the previous two years.
Let us not take for granted the simple but necessary elements needed for best learning in the early years. Humans were designed as social creatures for which interactions are vital for proper development.
-Casa – Ms. Elliott-
- COVID was a tough time for everyone. From checking temperatures daily (3x) a day, making sure students had 0 symptoms while they were at school was a lot of work! Accommodating students online was also a challenge to make sure they were getting their full amount of online education, we could see how difficult it was for students, staff, and parents to navigate and keep up with. Lots of hard work and planning was displayed daily.
-Casa – Mrs. Pabla & Mrs. Wright-