Submitted by John Horton, E1 Educator, J.J. Hill Montessori
Fall in Minnesota is full of beautiful weather as summer slips away and we see the leaves change color. It is a perfect time for reflection and preparation. As educators we welcome our new school year with energy and excitement in September, while In October we see how our routines and traditions have unfolded. This year, I found a way to continue my reflection and preparation with a new Fall tradition… the Mini Minnesota Montessori Conference.
Families and educators across Minnesota circle the third weekend in October for the “MEA break” (now called the Education Minnesota Conference.). For educators, two days of professional development. While the name has changed, the MEA still provides both an excellent opportunity to strengthen our craft and grow as professionals. Yet, like most professional development we may experience, often there is a lack of focus on Montessori education. Not anymore! Thanks to the collaborative efforts of St. Kates, UW River Falls, and the Minnesota Montessori Network, we have an excellent day of Montessori educator learning.
Attending the Mini Minnesota Montessori conference on October 17th provided an outstanding place to learn, grow, and connect. After a networking breakfast time, there were two morning keynote sessions – one specific to Early Childhood and one for Elementary and Adolescent educators. The keynote I attended was presented by Macarre Traynham, who asked us to look at ourselves and question “The systems around us, because these are policies that impact people. We choose to hold them up or bring them down.” The time flew by with enlightening content offered in a very engaging manner.
After a community lunch, I appreciated the choice of many compelling afternoon sessions offered by educators from throughout our region’s Montessori community. I selected one afternoon session in which I learned an expanded vision of “Adolescent Valorization”. We discussed how we can support true independence and guidance for a life of meaningful work. My second session offered us a personal story of Trauma where we learned how we can recognize these experiences and support families and children with greater sensitivity.
Closing the day with an onsite happy-hour with relevant and interesting door prizes, I was reminded of the feeling a child gets when they have been heard, seen, and validated. The excitement and passion one feels when they are well received. Yet, the biggest take away for me was the sense of community. Talking with fellow Montessori educators through collaborative work and learning. Carving out a little time during the Fall break provided me with an excellent opportunity to reflect and prepare as a Montessori educator. I suppose that is what Fall is all about, and now we have Montessorians have a place to support our unique experience as educators in Minnesota. I hope to see you there next year!