The Montessori Leaders Collaborative Meeting
in Austin, TX | January 13, 2013 | Communiqué
The Montessori Leaders Collaborative (MLC) group members convened in Austin, Texas from January 11-13, 2013 to build on our previous work over the past fourteen months in planning and implementing a collaborative and successful future for the Montessori movement. Our unanimous goal is to bring high quality Montessori to more children.
These face-to-face meetings of the leaders of several Montessori organizations continue to deepen the sense of shared purpose we feel. It is becoming more clear that it is possible to appreciate the diversity of thought in our movement while discovering commonalities. We are very cognizant that if we model the behavior, collaboration, creativity, respect, and enthusiasm that our students exhibit in the classroom, there is no limit to what the Montessori movement can achieve!
We rolled up our sleeves and got to work in small teams on the first day of our meeting, moving the collaborative needle forward in areas such as funding, communications/advocacy, an emphasis on ages 0-6, research, teacher training, and reaching parents/alumni. On the second and third days we convened the whole group in order to come up with concrete next steps within those areas where we found consensus and interesting opportunities for action.
A number of concrete next steps worth noting here:
- It is clear that engaging a communications firm will help us to articulate the message of the Montessori movement as a whole more strategically and effectively. We want to influence policy through our advocacy work. The conveners (The McCall Kulak Family Foundation and the McTeague Catalyst Fund) are beginning a search process this month.
- A focus and planning process on birth-6 was one of our key successes at this meeting. There is an opportunity for Montessori to play a big part in birth-6 education nationally. The group endorsed a proposal for the establishment of a task force to create a template for the development of early childhood education centers. There is broad support for this effort.
- Research projects have been launched with the support of the MLC and the financial backing of the Foundations. Studies on topics such as student outcomes are essential for us to be able to use hard data to back up the results of the Montessori method that we have so often seen with our own eyes. We are determined to collect this data and use it strategically in order to benefit all Montessorians.
- The MLC began a discussion of differences and commonalities in teacher training offered by the various Montessori training organizations, including AMS, AMI, MEPI and other teacher training programs. We focused on establishing a framework for further discussion, identifying dimensions along which to compare the different trainings, and beginning to plan how to bring our pedagogical experts into the conversation. Bringing Montessori to more children, particularly in the public sector, means ensuring that we have the capacity to train enough excellent Montessori teachers. MLC has taken a giant step forward in changing the tone of this conversation about training from what we recognize it has been for the past half century. The MLC will continue to work through these issues to find ways to support each other in our broader goal of bringing Montessori to more children.
- A state-mapping project is underway that will result in a database of state and local organizations involved in Montessori advocacy, professional development and networking. We also agreed to build on the data currently in the database of MACTE (the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) to develop a more comprehensive view of Montessori training resources. We want to know exactly where our movement’s resources are.
- The McCall Kulak Family Foundation and the McTeague Catalyst Fund continue to act on our behalf through collective fundraising efforts and have received offers from a number of grantmaking foundations to support Montessori in the U.S. They have also been invited to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI-America) in June 2013 to participate in the early childhood development working group.
- The MLC will host a panel discussion at the International Montessori Congress in Portland in August 2013.
- We will continue to have in-person and virtual meetings of the MLC on an ongoing basis. We hope to meet at the Hershey Montessori School in Ohio in the Spring of 2013.
We will continue to proudly share the progress of the group.