This is guest blog by Michelle Ulgasan , better known as Teacher Mitch. Teacher Mitch is the current secretary of the Montessori Institute of America (MIA), a well known and respected teacher trainer, and a classroom teacher. Thank you, Teacher Mitch, for sharing how you and other MIA schools in the Philippines worked together to connect with families during the extended closure.
MIA Montessori Schools in the Philippines goes Online
Written by: Michelle Ulgasan
Classes in the Philippines were suspended since the second week of March. After the suspension, an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was declared in the National Capital Region where most of the MIA schools are situated. The supposedly 30 days ECQ, led to an extension and now we are almost on our 3rd month. After the first month, the owners of the MIA schools started to come together to discuss how we will face the challenges of this pandemic, including thinking of ways in which we can sustain the school’s operational expenses while we are not able to receive children physically in school. It was at first unimaginable how we can bring the Montessori Way online. Through the sharing of ideas and practices we do in our physical classroom, I would say somehow we are able to deliver a program where respect for children and individual differences is carried out. The following schools offer online programs to our Montessori children.
Menti Assorbenti Montessori is offering online classes to the children since April. This program is called “Online Playdate” where the children come together to see their classmates. Since the school year closed abruptly, the children were not able to say goodbye. The joy on the children’s faces on their first day to see each other via the Zoom meeting room was priceless. We could really see how much they miss each other. Our activities include processing the situation we are in, the safety measures we need to observe, a lot of show and tell where all the children always have an opportunity to speak and share something in class. We do art, storytelling, singing, dancing, and gross motor activities. We also invite people from different parts of the world to show our children how it is like at their place. We are very grateful to have the support of the MIA community who willingly accepted our invitation. Special mention to the following: Ms. Beverley Wolff for the wonderful story about the continent and also for sharing about the USA. Then we have Ms. Wenru Sun who shared with the children the beautiful places in China and the many delicious foods they have. We were also joined by Ms. Janet Duffy who shared her adventure in South Africa and Ms. Ann Tran who showed us beautiful Vietnam and the many ways you can use the lotus plant. We are glad we are able to pull this through. Of course, this will not work successfully without the support of the parents at home. This new norm has actually strengthened our relationship with the parents and has formed many friendships with other people who are very much willing to help our class.
Macquarie Preparatory School offers a one on one program to the children where they provide Practical Life activities, Language, and Math. The owner of the school, Mrs. Kristine Tagle shares about how they conduct their online classes. They utilize zoom to continue on with the learning. They create a replica of the Montessori materials to make the children still see the materials they use in school while they are doing online. She also had parents pick up some materials from school. The children will use these materials as manipulatives during their online classes which helps them to concentrate. They also use a zoom powerpoint for phonemic awareness. This is presented similarly to how the Montessori sound buckets are used. They also offer assistance to parents on how they can guide their children at home and how to keep track of their progress. She gives them access to the school’s online library and sends out videos of practical life activities where the children will also try to do at home. She hopes that her program will help others and be inspired that our Montessori method can make it on the digital platform.
Macquarie Preparatory School
Maria Montessori School of Mt. Carmel started their online classes this month of May. Mrs. Rosellie Azores shares two of her activities during their class. Here, the teacher is showing the children the life cycle of a butterfly during storytime. The other photo shows the teacher telling the story of the Invisible String by Patrice Karst. She feels this is appropriate to tell the children because it talks about being connected by the invisible string that is love despite being apart especially now that we can’t go out to meet our friends. The teachers are happy to see the children once again and vice versa.
Maria Montessori School of Mount Carmel
Palm Springs Montessori Integrated School will start their online program this coming June. Mrs. Dahlia Manantan, the owner of the school decided to take their class online to be able to continue the children’s learning as they stay safe at home. The teachers are all busy preparing the lesson plans for their online classes. As much as they want the children to be physically back in school, safety is their priority. They are embracing virtual learning to deliver the Montessori program for their 3 to 6 years old online.
Palm Spring Montessori Integrated School
It has been declared by our Department of Education that our schools will be allowed to open in late August. Hopefully, there will be a vaccine for this deadly disease soon. Many parents of these preschoolers are hesitant to send their children back to school. This pandemic has brought so much change in everyone’s life. We are glad that our Montessori teachers are resilient and are ready to take on the new challenges this situation demands. We all pray that soon COVID 19 will have its cure.