Wheaton Montessori News
“Montessori students learn to collaborate and work together in learning and on major projects. They strive for their personal best, rather than compete against one another for the highest grade in their class.” “Montessori 101: Some Basic Information that Every Montessori Parent Should Know” by Tim Steldin. “Tomorrow’s Child,” Volume 8, Number 5, 2000. Pg. 6.
At Alumni Night, during tours of the school, and during Open Houses we are frequently asked how our students perform when they graduate and are faced with being graded, tested, and “evaluated.”
Our most recent Alumni Night provided a great opportunity for parents to hear from someone other than the teachers and staff. Several parents asked the visiting panel members about adjusting to being graded, evaluated, and getting feedback on their work. The alumni expressed surprise to hear parents implying that our students are not “evaluated” every step of the way. They are! By themselves, by their peers, by the self-correcting materials, and by the teachers, who have high expectations for the children in our school.
Our alumni consistently make us very proud. The responses that they’ve given to this question likewise made us very proud – and make us laugh. One student said her struggle was a social one when she started at a local middle school. It was “cool” at her middle school to try and get away with doing the least amount of work. Or in worse cases, to appear less intelligent Her struggle was that this mindset was completely foreign to her. As she put it, “I didn’t know that slacking was ‘a thing.’ You just always did your best.”
When a student in one of our classrooms is looking for feedback from a teacher, she will frequently hear “Have you done the maximum?” The teacher will wait for the student to truly reflect on her own work. It’s not only a quantitative evaluation (“Did you do 20 equations? Or just 10?”), but a qualitative evaluation (“Did I try my hardest? Did I understand it? Did I fly through it without trying?”).
These moments for self-reflection are opportunities to for the child to build a life-long habit of pursing purposeful work, trying hard no matter the assignment, and recognizing the value of her own efforts.