Maria Montessori defines “spirituality” as one of the domains of Early Childhood Education and Development. I’ve been a Montessorian since around 2006 and teacher trainer since 2008. The thought of adding “spirituality” to kids’ education was in my Montessori training and practice of methodology. It’s also embedded in her Montessori philosophy. What’s interesting: About eight years ago, I also attempted to add “spirituality” into the domains of development into one of my ECE teachers’ training; not surprisingly, it was “shot down” by my supervisor instantly. I can not let go of even the yearning and need to add “spirituality” to the way I teach those with dyslexia and other neurodifferences with, of course, meeting their other needs such as cognitive and sensory-motor needs.
I have been tutoring since 2001; for about five years since my O-G training, I have been working heavily with students with dyslexia. I was blending Montessori and O-G methods and even came up with a program named, Oh Good Golly. To me using multi-sensory, individualized, sequential methods etc.. are key to helping students with learning differences; but a year ago, I was getting the guilt feeling of not “meeting the needs of the whole child”. Therefore, I started on writing my new Program Named ELBERT™ which is an intervention program to help students and training programs to help parents and teachers to better understand learning differences and challenges. This ELBERT™ program is a hybrid of elements from Montessori and Orton-Gillingham and based on my own inductive reasoning and a detective sense contributed to my own gift of dyslexia, certifications, credentials, and experiences including countless hours of student observations, educational research, and studies along with my perpetual care for children. Similar to the Montessori philosophy, the Free The Literacy International Online Course by Dr. Vincent Goetry, Course Director, and Dyslexia International, based off of his recommendations, the dyslexic students need to be provided a safe, secure and happy environment by bearing in mind that children with dyslexia usually need several approaches in order to (Read on 7/17/20, https://www.dyslexia-and-literacy.international/ONL/EN/Course/Intro.htm):
·Encourage risk-taking in class, by persuading them to raise their hands even if they have doubts about their answers
·’Help’ them to give correct answers
·Avoid putting them in situations of failure in front of the others
·Reinforce self-esteem in class
·Preserve their self-esteem when marking their work
Encourage risk-taking in class, by persuading them to raise their hands even if they have doubts about their answers:
In my mind, a child who is coached by an adult to be their own advocate- won’t care what others think of them and do what’s best for their own learning. As Dr. Shultz (2015) reminds us to educate them on dyslexia and being their own advocate by telling us about: “The E in the De-Stress Model means to Education. And by that, I mean to educate the child about his or her condition. Until the child understands that she has a learning disability or ADHD and it’s having this or that impact on learning, you don’t engage the child in his own self-care. And that’s a problem. Otherwise, it’s adults doing things to kids, for kids, about kids. I think we’re missing the boat because we don’t educate kids well enough. They don’t advocate well for themselves. They don’t get it. They just think there are a lot of adults hanging around them making them do stuff that’s too hard for them. Once they get it, it’s wonderful. It’s a great thing to see.” Read on 7/17/20, https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed; https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf; https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood
Personally, I talk to my students about being their own advocate and educate them on their capabilities and their own brain. They learn to speak out because they know that their thinking is unique and just as important as anyone else’s viewpoint/ideas. I actually write in my evaluation that the students and their parents give and encourage them opportunities to develop agency for something that they believe in whether it be animal rights, racial injustice, disability rights, advocacy, and dyslexia awareness/education!!
Lastly, I give them tools and strategies such as “thinking maps” because it’s not their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that are so much shamed by others but the way in our disorganized communication that gets others to shame us. The thinking maps are done visually in their heads that help them to organize their own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in an analytical way for others to understand better!!
‘Help’ them to give correct answers:
First, being a Montessorian, Maria’s philosophy is all about facilitating the child’s learning. This means that you trust and respect the child. I think they may know more than myself and I’m in their service. I serve the child not in the mindset that because I’m the adult that I necessarily know more- BUT, I do have them feel safe, secure, and happy at the same time. This takes a balance and an uncanny open-mindedness!!
Secondly, in the Montessori philosophy, there is a cycle of activity. “This cycle respects individual variations in the learning process facilitates the development of coordination, concentration, independence, and a sense of order while facilitating your child’s assimilation of information.” Read on 7/17/2020, https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood
Third, I ‘help’ them to give correct answers by not saying, ‘no or that’s not right’ when referring to an answer to a question. In my classes, the students are also safe and secure amongst their peers because I never discourage any thought, belief, and idea. If I have questions about it, I will ask to have them think. In turn, It usually persuades me to rethink my own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas!!! Love my kids and their “outside-of-the-box thinking”! On the other hand, I can take their answer and work with their answer by assimilating what I know that they have in their background knowledge and experience to the new skill, the content of the question that I’m presenting to them.
Avoid putting them in situations of failure in front of the others:
I’m a fan of Dr. Shultz and reading about his work in the IDA Handbook!! Dr. Shultz (2015) puts those with dyslexia on even “playing ground” which will set them up to succeed. “The R in the De-Stress Model means Reduce the threat. That means take the fear out of the environment for the child. If the child, for example, is intimidated by working in a large class filled with 26 or 30 kids, provide some time for small group instruction. However, if a child is stressed by being in a small group because all the attention is focused on him, then think about that when you create the space in which learning is supposed to occur. “
He also talks about, “The T in the De-Stress Model means to Teach the child the skills that she needs to be successful. We’ve talked about looking at her strengths and her weaknesses. But unless she has tools she can use consistently and regularly that are going to allow her to be successful, she won’t’ be, it’s random. So if there’s a particular method of reading instruction or math instruction or social skills interaction that you know from experience will be helpful for this child, teach her how to do those kinds of things. Let her rehearse those kinds of things in a safe environment. Don’t put her on stage without any preparation. Otherwise, she’ll experience yet again another failure. We don’t want to have that happen.” Read on 7/17/20 https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed; https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf
I “follow the child” in my lessons and informal observations dictate what they learn. Likewise, my instruction is systematic, direct, and sequential in manner. I work on levels with 90% mastery!! They can only move on when ready, not based on where others would consider them to be or need to be. https://greenspringmontessori.org/montessori-mastery-a-learning-process-for-life/; https://www.dyslexia-and-literacy.international/ONL/EN/Course/S1-1.htm & https://www.dyslexia-and-literacy.international/ONL/EN/Course/S3-1.htm
Lastly, I personally pair them with students who will mentor and uplift them. I carefully set up my small and individual pairs for collaborative work. They can grow in connection with these other students because again the careful pairing will set them up for success.
Reinforce self-esteem in class:
Independence and self-regulatory behavior are in direct correlation to gaining and keeping one’s self-esteem. In Montessori, we don’t use any outside reinforcement and believe all self-esteem and regulatory behavior needs to be positively internalized. I try to give my students tools and strategies to self-regulate. I don’t use prizes, sticker charts, and such. I ask them, ‘how did it make you feel when you completed such and such all by yourself’. At the same time, I do want them to know that I am proud of them!! This again takes balance!!
I am not a fan of ABA because it shows immediate changes/results in a child’s behavior and actions. It is not long-lasting like self-directed neuroplasticity. To help save their self-esteem, they need to know that they are in control independently as it relates to their actions and behavior by having self-directed neuroplasticity. Going along with Montessori again, I trust the child in their actions and behaviors- I try very hard sometimes in being open to understanding why they chose to do what they do. In turn, I help them to think positively about themselves and their actions which is the biggest self-esteem saver!! Read on 7/17/20, https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood
Dr. Shults (2015) states, “The S in the De-Stress Model has to do with Speculate. And for me, that means, sitting down with the child and speculating with the child, what do you bring to this learning task that’s going to help you be successful? A child might say, I don’t know what you mean by that, and you can say, you know what? When you take things apart, you do a really good job at that. Or when you get in front of people and you do your comedy routine, you’re really great at that. Those are all strengths” Also, “S means success. And success means once you build a foundation for success by reducing stress and building confidence and building competence, success builds upon success. That’s an important part of the model. The final S in the De-Stress Model has to do with strategizing, thinking ahead. You’re saying to the child, now that you know these things, you know what’s going on in the brain, you know the impact of stress on your learning, you’ve been taught strategies to work on these things, take what you’ve learned here and try to apply that to the very next thing that you’re going to be asked to do. You can do it. And you know you can do it. And I hope that this.De-Stress Model helps kids get to that point of success.” Read on 7/17/20 https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed; https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf
Preserve their self-esteem when marking their work:
I have not used red ink in probably 20 years. I literally threw away all my red ink pens!! No joke..I have dyslexia and other learning differences. As a child, It killed me more than any to see my creative writing all marked up with a red pen with a frowny face or test for that matter. One year, I went into an already established and set-up PreK classroom, I threw away all the red pens that I found!!
I use learning conferences instead of marking their work. This way we are a team. They are directed by using rubrics that we make together!! Now, the rubrics are key along with the learning conferences. This way they know my expectations and what I “believe in” them that they may not even know yet that they can accomplish. If they think something is impossible, I will listen and take into consideration and “meet them where they are”.
If they think they can’t do something, then they pretty much can’t because I know, “you create your own reality’. I talk to them about envisioning what they want to see happening in their work and share it with me. This is where goal setting is absolutely key!! During learning conferences, it is so important to revisit those goals and recognize their self-esteem when goals are met then set new goals!! Read on 7/17/20, http://www.moedu-sail.org/lessons/developing-using-learning-rubrics/
Course Available Here On Teachable: yourelbertnow.teachable.com/p/oh-good-golly-capturing-langu…
7 Weeks Course- Includes ELBERT Suggested Lesson Plan😉
Note: Includes Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy VERBS For Easy Lesson Plan Writing and Based ON Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses ALONG with How People Learn Best.
Therefore, please read my recent and now getting internationally recognized article (link below) which is now the basis of my Elbert program www.myelbert.com: Join in a discussion about my article: Looking to Heal Our Own [Learning] Difference Through Our Very Own DNA. HERE: https://myelberteveryonelearnsbetterembracingrevolutionaryteaching.com/2020/02/27/looking-to-heal-our-own-learning-difference-through-our-very-own-dna-an-alternative-perspective-from-the-spirit-soul-and-body-cook-t-2020/
More References: Bailey, E. (n.d.). How Multisensory Classrooms Help Children with Dyslexia. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https://www.thoughtco.com/multisensory-approaches-for-dyslexia-3111175
To read more about Maria Montessori: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fully-human/201910/one-the-20th-centurys-greatest-educators
Montessori Methodology- read more here: https://kindredspiritslearning.com/2020/01/27/bite-sized-montessori/
Best Regards, Tricia Cook, Reading Specialist, Behavioral & Dyslexia Interventionist, O-G AA Tutor & Montessorian
Course Available Here On Teachable: HERE
ELBERT Suggested Lesson Plan-Note: Includes Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy VERBS For Easy Lesson Plan Writing and Based ON Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses ALONG with How People Learn Best.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Starts 8/24/2020- your child can join online for ELBERT™ Fall Fun SERIES SCHEDULE email firstname.lastname@example.org or press here: https://myelberteveryonelearnsbetterembracingrevolutionaryteaching.com/2020/07/14/cooks-fall-fun-educational-series-schedule/