2022 AMS Conference
With each passing year, new schools open in both the private and public sectors, more and more states recognize the efficacy of our pedagogy, and Montessori proliferates worldwide. As our Movement swells, so does our annual gathering. The Montessori Event is the largest gathering of Montessori educators in the world and the signature event of the American Montessori Society.
School leadership and some of our teachers and administrators attended the Annual AMS Conference in Nashville, TN, either remotely or in person. They joined Montessori educators from around the globe for impactful workshop presentations, inspired community networking opportunities, renowned keynote addresses, a robust exhibit hall, and so much more.
Aish Saminathan, Huma Kazmi, Amy Gerstacker, Teresa Hartmann, Sue Saad, Chiara DiCondina, and Melissa Apuzzio, attended virtually, while Michelle Morrison, Andrea O’Brian, and Dorothy Paul made the trip to Nashville.
From our HOS, Michelle Morrison:
Being together, in person, as an American Montessori Society community, was so inspiring, uplifting, and valuable. In addition to the formal sessions, ideas were shared person to person, resources were made available that will lead to further learning and discussion back at our schools, and keynote speakers challenged us to meet the demands of the future while acknowledging the powerful and positive impact a Montessori education has on children. Personally, sharing on a panel of heads of school from the larger Montessori schools in the nation, serving on the school accreditation committee days before the conference, and having the time to experience the conference alongside our Asst. HOS and Director of PCTE all allowed the space and time to think deeply, collaborate, and connect to something larger than ourselves and our own school and training center. I’m grateful to the Board of Trustees for supporting our commitment to professional development and I can see firsthand that such learning directly improves our work with students.
Upper Elementary teacher, Aish Saminathan:
The Montessori event, which was attended both in person and virtually by several of our faculty and staff, saw a confluence of sessions on child development, educational best practices, holistic pedagogy, and recent research findings related to Montessori. Our team of F&S attended several sessions including “Cultivating a culturally responsible environment,” “How Identity Exploration Fuels Social Justice,” “Ethnomathematics” and “Inspiring and Cosmic Education.”
The session on “Are Kids Alright?: Post Pandemic Mental Health” by Michael Thompson, Lead Psychologist, Bellmont High School, offered actionable pathways to rethink the way we look at children’s mental health. Another group session “Montessori Philosophy: 115 years later” – which was opened by Ulcca Joshi Hansen, author, educationist, and thought leader – brought home useful points about the need for Montessori education for a fast-changing future of children.
Toddler teacher, Chiara DiCondina:
I would like to share some highlights from an excellent workshop I took during the conference. Sarah Hassebroek: Assistant Professor at St. Catherine University Workshop- “Autonomy Over Independence: Differentiating to Empower Children”. How to Build autonomy in children – Let them build small steps and it helps them build success which puts them in places where they won’t disengage. (Easy wins first). Therefore, we need to allow children to succeed so they build the confidence to develop intrinsic motivation to choose more challenging tasks.
The teacher must allow for this process and needs to assist and acknowledge when a child may not have intrinsic motivation. This is when the guide can reflect on the environment and adjust materials to allow for the child to feel confident and motivated to work.
I also was so empowered by Ashley Judd’s talk. The way she took us on her journey to make us understand that for her to work with people on this planet that so very much need a person to walk beside them, hug them, and follow them through their process cannot be done without her taking care of herself. Her work is somewhat different from ours, but yet not so much. What we do is so powerful and meaningful and to really give these children our best selves requires “Self Care.”
Toddler teacher, Sue Saad:
I was so inspired by Ashley Judd’s vulnerability and story! Giving a voice to the human experience is needed. We need to hear and feel the importance of taking care of ourselves. Focusing on the care of self is so fundamental – it is not selfish, it builds self-esteem, and is self-initiative in the physical, mental and emotional sense. Proper self-care allows us to strive to be more connected with ourselves – when we do this, we are then able to surround ourselves with the right people. Who we surround ourselves with is a reflection of how we care for and treat ourselves. We can’t give what we don’t have – we have to love ourselves first, yet many of us have never prioritized ourselves and might not know what that journey or experience looks like – we may even fear it.
The work we do as educators, parents, and partners is so important – we need to have that self-awareness of our own personal needs to better build the community, as well as care for the children from a place of clarity and softness, witnessing and validating the child’s reality.
We had an amazing time seeing many of you at The Montessori Event in Nashville AND online! This year, we connected with over 2,000 attendees in person and nearly 2,000 virtually. Our keynote speakers, Ashley Judd, Isabel Wilkerson, Jaime Casap, and Duncan Wardle left us feeling inspired, empowered, and motivated. Attendees participated in interactive workshops where they learned new ideas and practical skills. We hope everyone who attended feels reenergized to continue the work of building a better world through Montessori.