To help the emerging adolescent discover and develop their potential academically, socially, and emotionally by exploring their world, finding their place in it, and giving back.
They Will Thrive in High School
Montessori middle school students enter high school with the academic, social, and emotional qualities and skills needed to thrive. These include: confidence, competence, dignity, compassion, mindfulness, discipline, organization, initiative, self-reliance, and the ability to work with others, think critically and think creatively.
Valorization is Maria Montessori’s phrase to describe the emerging adolescent’s process of becoming a strong and capable person, who has discovered that they are worthy of joining the world of adults.
Our focus on practical life skills relevant to the lives of adolescents and the valorization of the personality make it uniquely Montessori. The adolescent is undergoing tremendous change physically, emotionally, and intellectually. The Montessori middle school teacher has been specifically trained to design a curriculum and classroom environment to support and guide the adolescent as they become more aware of their self in relation to others and their community and search to find their place in the world.
Features of a Montessori Middle School
- Teachers guide each student with wisdom, compassion, and respect.
- Practical life skills relevant to the lives of the adolescent include time management and organizational skills, healthy living, financial literacy, conflict resolution, technology, and mindfulness.
- A spiraling curriculum enables students to dig deeper into material learned at an earlier age in order to explore and master new ideas and skills and cultivate a big picture understanding of the world.
- Thematic cycles of study linked to the developmental characteristics of the adolescent make studies more relevant and guide the student to make connections with their own experience.
- Students are encouraged to reflect often and ask, “Who am I?” and other questions that explore identity.
- A cooperative mixed-age classroom environment creates a high-functioning mini-society where students lead community meetings and solve common problems together.
- Opportunities for appropriate responsibility and leadership. Students will develop self-reliance and joy from overcoming challenges and meeting or exceeding expectations from self, others, and their community.
- Opportunities for students to work with their hands include tinkering with simple machines or constructions, learning a craft, and working in the garden or woods.
- Authentic and necessary service projects in their classroom, school, and community foster a sense of responsibility as citizens.
- A student-run business enables students to manage a real enterprise together and generate real revenue.
- Off site field studies that support thematic cycles of study and directly connect students with the world away from the classroom.
The fundamental work of the Montessori middle school is to support the unique developmental characteristics of the adolescent by providing opportunities for social-emotional growth, meaningful academic work that challenges each student, and practical life skills that will prepare the student for success in high school and in life.
Adolescents learn best by doing real work in a stimulating environment
with their peers and the support of caring and respectful adults.
A Typical Day
A typical middle school day begins with a student-led morning meeting followed by individual, small group, and whole class lessons. A visitor to our classroom will see students treating each other with kindness and respect; learning to manage their time wisely; working independently while teachers provide instruction to others; delving into academic work with interest and an eye for quality; working together to care for the classroom and their community.
Students may be seen being given a great deal of freedom and responsibility. Students coordinate the student-run business, arrange the logistics for off campus outings, and lead all school assemblies.
Our students also get outside every day for work and play. Poetry on the plaza. Pick-up soccer in the field. Math on the playground. Disc golf anywhere there’s a target. Writers’ workshop by the river.
Cycles of Study and Intercessions
The academic year is divided into thematic cycles of study linked to ideas that matter to adolescents: identity, power, balance, independence, and justice. These themes make learning relevant and guide students to make connections with their own experiences and ideas. At the end of an academic cycle, students present a culminating project or a portfolio of their work to one other, and their families or the community, in an atmosphere of collaboration and celebration. Students learn how to give and receive feedback with grace, and learn how to stand in the spotlight and be proud of their accomplishments.
Intercessions between cycles allow students to pursue specialized areas of study in depth that are not usually part of the academic cycle. Intercessions may include traveling the Underground Railroad by bike or foot, filmmaking, weaving, and rocketry.