We recently completed our first-ever virtual residencies. My heartfelt thanks go out to each and every one of our dedicated faculty and those great students who took a chance on us to deliver what they needed to move forward with their internships. Thanks also to our federal accreditor, the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), for working with us to assure our students that, during this cycle, their virtual hours will count for the face-to-face component of their training.
With the assistance of Karen Walton and Yolanda Reyes, I delivered the Early Childhood residency to 54 students! We presented lessons in the morning and then broke out into five small groups that were mentored by experienced Age of Montessori faculty members Tom Baskett, Erin Lanigan and Diana Palmares. In the afternoon sessions, some students who had access to materials enjoyed supervised practiced while others observed and longed to get their hands on the Montessori materials, too! We discussed classroom management and any questions that had not been answered in the morning sessions. With the assistance of Suzanne Tipton, Janet Nordemann delivered the Elementary I residency to an amazing group of students, and starting on July 8, Karla Hahn and I will deliver the residency for Elementary II.
It has been an experience I will long remember, as will our happily engaged students. When we saw how serious the COVID-19 situation was becoming, we knew we had to keep offering training and support to our adult learners. It took far more work and preparation than we had initially expected. But then, most quality endeavors do!
Perhaps the most wondrous aspect of the virtual residencies was the intimacy we all felt in getting to know each other and having many discussions about Montessori philosophy, the lesson presentations, and the state of the world. Some students felt the virtual class was superior to an in-person residency, particularly in the way the two-camera shoot provided close-ups of the presenter’s hands. Students who had previously attended a class in-person commented that they were able to see the presentation details so much better than they could at a distance of ten feet or more. Plus, we now have a video library of lesson presentations for our students to watch again and again, if needed, as a refresher.
I’d like to share the thoughts of our faculty, as well as my own, to give you a fuller picture of what a virtual residency is like. It was truly an amazing experience!
Testimonials from our amazing teacher trainers:
Testimonial from Janet Nordeman instructor for Elementary I
“I had the honor of being the instructor for ELI. Teaching adults the Montessori method and message is the highlight of my 40+ years in education, and this residency was no different. What made it unique is that the entire residency took place virtually! One might think that in this case the essence of Montessori and the lessons would be lost, but I can testify that it wasn’t. With a stellar camera crew, skilled audio-visual technicians, supportive staff and outstanding teaching assistant, the residency took place without a hitch. Yet, with all that skill and support, what really made this residency outstanding was the quality of heart of all the adult learners. They shared selflessly in so many ways: ideas, handouts, conversation and participation. They shared deep thoughts and insights and asked valuable questions. They supported each other and staff with grace and respect. Their dedication to educating children manifested in so many ways, not the least of which was several of them were up in the middle of the night or very early morning to participate in the residency. I feel blessed to be part of such a great organization that allows me to work with such outstanding teachers.”
Karen Walton Early Childhood
“It was a great honor to be under the director of Mary Ellen Maunz and a wonderful team of faculty and staff during the 2020 Age of Montessori Virtual Residency. It was incredible to see so many people’s efforts coming together to develop the online residency in just under twelve weeks! I felt that the contributions from those in front of the camera and behind the scenes provided a rich, educational and successful virtual training platform with an unparalleled curriculum that we could offer to students.
Between our original plan of having the in-person residency at two locations, we were able to bring over fifty students worldwide together for the online training experience. At first, I thought that it wouldn’t be as personal and would lack depth compared to the in-person model that I was used to. To my delight, it was a remarkable experience for both students and instructors. The positive feedback, heartwarming testimonials and sheer satisfaction of every residency student was evident throughout the three week intensive. I enjoyed my afternoon cohort of eleven students which allowed us more time for discussion and a more intimate setting to discuss and share Montessori philosophy, life experiences and how we could be effective teachers of young children.
Having the residency virtually turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to our online teaching model and allowed students, who might have otherwise not been able to attend, to join us in their journey to becoming a Montessori-certified teachers. I am ever grateful for the gift of education that Dr. Montessori has given us to share and for the amazing individuals that I admire so much at Age of Montessori- every single one of them. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this organization!”
Yolonda Reyes, Early Childhood Instructor
“This is my fourth year with Age of Montessori as an Instructor during the Summer Residencies, and I have to say it is something I look forward to all year round. For me this experience is one very close to my heart, for I get to bond to so many amazing people. I get to witness the students dedication, vocation and excitement for this new path in their lives, it always encompasses such hope and love for humanity, it truly inspires me to keep walking this Montessori life. I have met such wonderful people every year, people who I keep in touch during the years, they have become colleagues and friends. I have so much appreciation for Age of Montessori for trusting me and having me on board every year,Being an Instructor has enriched my life in so many ways and I will always be grateful for each year I attend the Summer Residencies. This year we tested something never done before, a completely virtual residency; to my amazement I found that that same human contact and richness was never lost. It was present and very strong just as it is when students are physically with you in the same room. It was a great experience working with cameras and lighting, camera and tech personnel who became like family for three short weeks. Every year the abundance in hearts and joy amazes me and I look forward to keep participating in the Summer Residencies, I learn and heal so much!”
Erin Lanigan, Early Childhood Instructor
“Amidst all the changes that COVID-19 brought to the world, some challenges have turned into opportunities. This is the case with the Virtual Residency Age of Montessori (AoM) was able to host this year. I knew early on that with a history of online learning, AoM could do this well. Despite all the planning, it wasn’t until we were in the residency that I saw HOW well it would be done. We were able to serve more people, continue to accommodate learners from all around the world, and above all, we still held a course that allowed for very deep and personal connections regardless of the physical distance. Bravo to everyone who made this year‘s residency one I will never forget.”