I’m about to expose insider information here and let you in on one of the biggest secrets to Montessori’s success. Once you know what I’m about to share, you are hereby ready to start your own Montessori program*.
The secret sauce?
When a work is self-correcting, a student gets clear, instant feedback on whether they’ve found the right solution or not.
What does this look like in the classroom?
Imagine a Hebrew-English matching game played between two students (we’ve told you we’re into the value of collaborative learning haven’t we?). The students are matching the Hebrew word cards to their English translations. When they are ready to check their work, they flip the cards over and see if the numbers on the back match, letting them know instantly if they are correct. Students don’t need to rush to a teacher to “check their work”. They check it themselves.
There are hundreds of examples of self-correcting works in our classrooms. All of them build confidence and autonomy, eliminate the crutch of traditional testing, and result in needing less external feedback.
Let’s look at a real-life example of the value of self-correction.… basketball (shout out to my brother Elias who has taught me all I know about the sport)**!
When you shoot a basketball, there is clear feedback if you got the ball in the hoop or not. You don’t need someone hovering over your shoulder telling up whether or not you scored. You can see and adjust your shot slightly as needed. You still need guidance and coaching, but a lot is learned from the visual feedback of the activity itself.
Now if you’re still reading***, take a moment and imagine two very different scenarios.
Scenario one: You enjoy basketball, you’re not the best at it, not even second-best, but hey it’s fun and you spend your Sundays practicing. Eventually, you tone up your skills, and over a few months, you become a decent basketball player. You still aren’t the best at it, but you are getting better, it’s great exercise, and it’s fun!
Scenario number two: You start off at the same level as above, you’re still practicing, but after a few days, your teacher hands out grades based on your performance. Your grade (in bright red numbers)?
Now, how motivated are you to keep practicing?
And if you do, how much will you enjoy it?
Swap out basketball with math or science and require students to keep “playing”, only now with red numbers hovering over their heads. Is anyone starting to lose their motivation 🤔?
The point isn’t that you should be oblivious to your skill level. And everyone needs a coach (we still have teachers here ya know 🤗). But by leaning towards self-correction, our students build independence and learn to grow from their mistakes on their own.
I have a lot more to say about self-correction and testing.
But maybe I’ll first let this sink in for y’all.
Looking forward to hearing your feedback.
Have a wonderful Shabbos,
*Oh wait, you don’t want to start your own school from scratch? Well, whaddya know? We’ve gone ahead and done all the hard work over here already for you already 😊. Reply to this email to schedule a visit.
** what’s the point of writing a weekly newsletter if I can’t give a shout-out to my little brother 👦 once in a while?)
*** Hey, it’s been a while since I wrote so I’m making it up here 😜.