The general public typically thinks of Montessori education as being only for early childhood. Yet, the method is for the entire development of the child from 0-18. Our Elementary Diploma Course is the combined 6 – 12 age range training, which includes: Lower Elementary (I) (6-9 years) and Upper Elementary (II) (9-12 years). We believe it’s an asset to guides to be familiar with the full range of elementary lessons, so they can serve children who might be working at a level different from their age group. Some applicants only work in a lower classroom or an upper classroom. Some come from non-education backgrounds. Some are homeschoolers or teach virtually. No matter their path beforehand, all of our guides-in-training share the same common goal – to obtain a MACTE accredited diploma for the Elementary years.
In the summer of 2019, our first Elementary Diploma course cohort traveled to Southern California for their first in-residency studies. A dozen plus eager guides-in-training didn’t know that this was the beginning of life-long friendships nor did they know that a global pandemic was going to disrupt their two-year training. In less than one year into their studies, chugging along in their virtual seminars and in-person observations and practice teaching, they were hit with COVID and quarantine. Their schools were shut down and went to virtual learning. Their personal lives were upheaved. Fortunately, our diploma courses are built on a digitally flexible foundation so evolving the curriculum didn’t cause as much disruption as other areas of the guides-in-training lives due to the pandemic.
For the next year and half, the cohort became a tight-knit and resilient group who leaned on each other for accountability and support. Several guides-in-training had babies, several moved, and several were able to use their experience with distance learning with their children who had to switch online. Together, they reached their goal and graduated in June 2021.
Perhaps the distance learning isn’t hard to imagine since many people in the world learned how to adjust to work and school from home. However, you may wonder, how did we conduct a graduation ceremony virtually with our graduates who span across North America? Well, first, after two years, we definitely knew optimal times to meet. Second, Zoom is a very good friend. Third, we gathered materials for a lovely graduation box and sent it to each graduate prior to the ceremony. When our graduates opened the box, they sifted through gold tissue paper to find a printed graduation program, handwritten cards from instructors, their Diploma encased in a photo holder, “Tao of Montessori” Book, a special Montessori-themed gift and confetti to celebrate. The program consisted of opening remarks, reflections, a graduation game, opening of the graduation box, and a closing toast of course! In true Montessori fashion, the "students" had a major role, such as organizing a hilarious online Kahoot quiz game that showcased interesting facts about each of us. It showed how well we knew each other! You can hear all of the graduates’ sentiments from their graduation video which you can view HERE.
Major themes stood out from the ceremony. These graduates had a deeper understanding of Montessori than they expected. They cherished the relationships that were built with their classmates. Finally, they appreciated their passionate and uplifting instructors for helping them through their successes and obstacles. I mean, just look at those cute cookies sent to the Elementary head trainer, Lindsay Journo, with Montessori grammar symbols?