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.


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