Monday, September 17, 2012

In Defense of Administrators.

Many Montessori school Administrators get a bad rap.   Most of us are actually quite nice people who have to make difficult decisions on a daily (dare I say hourly)  basis.  Unfortunately, making difficult decisions often means taking an unpopular stance to preserve and protect the programs we are managing.

For example, over the years, I have been asked  to incorporate other educational methods into classrooms just because a parent had ``been doing some reading``.  I have also been asked to change school policy for one family`s convenience and I have been asked to enrol a child in our program while the parents waited to see if the child would be accepted into another program.  I have been yelled at on the telephone because we don`t accept children over 3 years old and  I`ve been called ``elitist` because I wouldn`t make an exception and let a child start 3/4 of the way through a level.

Administrators have to say `no` daily to teachers who want/need just one more thing for a classroom.  We counsel parents who are splitting up and we work "something" out for parents who fall into financial difficulty.  We step in to cover for staff members who are away and we even clean toilets when the need arises.  We stay up late trying to figure out how to get a benefits package for the staff without blowing the budget and wake up early to greet the children at the start of the school day.  Some of us even teach on top of everything else.  If we are really lucky, we have enough time on the weekends to clean our homes because most Montessori administrators don't make enough to afford cleaners.

We work all year round and put in at least 40 hours a week.  Most of us continue to work while on vacation and have even been known to respond to work related emails sent on Christmas day.  We take abuse from all sides and do it with as professional a demeanour as we can muster. 

So why do we do it?  I ask myself this question whenever I've had a really difficult day.  Then I walk down the halls and peek into the classrooms to see happy children working together just like the descriptions in many of Dr. Montessori's books.  Or I stop to listen to a child so eager to tell me about a concept he's just mastered that his words come rushing out in a jumble.  Perhaps I look out the window and see a teacher taking her group on a nature walk - the respect for nature, for each other, for the world, palpable even from a distance.  That's when I remember.

We do it simply because true, authentic Montessori programs are worth it.



Jodie said...

Indeed it's a challenging role but seeing children grow to their full potential is truly rewarding.

Lindart said...


Enbarani said...

Hi Cynthia, love your blog.
I don't know where else to write this comment but here. Your picture, the one under the main blog title, which shows an adult bringing a group of children for nature walk, has caught my eyes and heart so much, that I would like to display the image as my desktop picture on my personal laptop. Since none of the children's faces can be seen, I'm pretty sure this does not violate any child protection issue.
I hope you give me the permission to use this picture for my personal use.

And by the way, I really look forward to reading your blog. Please continue posting.

Cynthia Dyer said...

Hi Enbarani:

Isn't it a wonderful picture? Thank you for having the grace and courtesy to ask about using it as a desktop photo and I am happy to share it with you.

Thank you for your kind words.


Marnie said...

Thank you so much for this post. Can you point me to other Montessori administrator written blogs? I am contemplating starting my own school and would love the company! :-)