Agenda | Next 7 Days

July 6, 2020

Reflections of a Toddler Teacher

Zooming with Goldfinch 2020

Remote Learning Reflections

Toddler teacher, Alona Procaccini, wrote this heartfelt reflection about teaching and connecting remotely.  It is a thoughtful observation and account of how screen time takes on a whole new value in ‘Covid-19 times’. 

Here we are in the spring of 2020, shopping from home, wearing masks, gloves out in public and always keeping a safe six feet away from any other human! Never in a million years would I have imagined that Ms. Saad and I, and our entire Toddler team, would be greeting our toddler classes on Zoom at the touch of a button instead of live at the Princeton Montessori School!

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Each day I wake eager to have my coffee, shower and dress as if I were actually going to get in my car and drive to work (truly my second home of 30 years). As I
grab my glasses, laptop and mug to go up to my little Montessori space my husband jokes and tells me not to be late for work. Greeting at school and greeting on Zoom still embodies the same passion, respect and ultimate support to the children and their parents. I certainly miss the handshakes, the hand off of the snacks, water bottles, nap items, diapers and wipes and those tender moments when a toddler would eagerly run to circle to be the one sitting next to me or simply plop down onto my lap at circle. The Zoom greeting is a push of the button to admit each child one by one by the host each day…It’s exciting to be the one waiting, to see who is entering Zoom each day! Ms. Saad and I run the short time we have on Zoom as close as we can to model the work cycle schedule we have always followed at school. A warm welcome on Zoom is a great way for any toddler to start the day! Yes it is screen time, just remember it is Covid19 time on the planet Earth, a new time in life, one never known by us. The screen is what we have to connect us to each other. It can be filled with learning, connecting, song and laughter!

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The children are wide eyed and eager to see us and their friends, eager to share a story about a worm they held, a flower they picked, a craft they made out of toilet paper rolls, the pajamas they are still in, the dinosaur on their shirt, what they ate for breakfast (or still eating)…One child will greet each child as they see them popping up on screen. We have one sweet little girl that greets us most days with her beaming eyes and smile along with her steamed mug of milk. We, meaning Ms. Saad, the sweet little girl’s momma, the sweet girl herself and I often do a little cheers (she is the first one on so it’s our special little connection)! I’m finding that the children, even at this tender age have adapted to this, “ new way of Montessoriing together”. I have one little boy who pretends to tickle us through the screen! We giggle and laugh, and tickle him right back. Another brings his special action figures one by one to share, another will wait to
see what work we do and go get the same work to bring to the virtual class. Another will only work at her little table with her puzzles and art work, looking up and smiling throughout the entire morning. Oh, plus after we had a lesson with the oral hygiene model, every child got to show us their toothbrushes!

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Circle in the classroom environment is filled with wonder, little bodies sitting crisscross applesauce eager to sing, dance, hear a story, have a lesson and have an opportunity to be heard. On our Zoom circle each day the children are sometimes on the sofa with a parent and pet or at a little station either on the floor or at a low table with a toddler sized chair with the camera right on them so we can see their sweet faces. The children will sing along with us, be invited to dance so… after we name the item that they want to sing about it’s all legs while they dance. Plus we have one silly dad who will make a stuffed monkey dance most each day while we sing! The children know that we are truly here for them. I have one mom that shared that she logged her older son on with his class and her little one put his hand over his chest patting saying, “mine…” meaning he wanted to go get on Zoom with his teachers and friends! We are talking about children that are 18months to 3 years of age… one day a little one waited for his mom to leave and held up his toes to the screen and smiled as he told us to look at his little stinky feet.

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These are only a few moments, a very few thoughts that I write to share… life is forever changed. Our love and passion for “Montessori” from Home remains true, heartfelt, and simply just a small piece of giving to the future of mankind.

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Alona Procaccini has been teaching at Princeton Montessori School for 30 years. She is a conference teacher and also serves as a Admissions Associate giving Toddler program tours. Alona holds an American Montessori Society credential in Infant/Toddler through Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ.  She is a PCTE Instructor and Field Consultant and a frequent parent workshop presenter on the topic of Preparing a Montessori Home Environment for the Young Child.

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The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.

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