Elementary Teaching and Assessment

At MSR, your child is empowered with both the freedom to choose and the responsibility of managing his own schoolwork.

Elementary students learn independence together. They review each other’s work, share materials and opinions, and get together to solve problems. Independently, your child learns to take notes, organize her own work, set goals (and meet them), take on more responsibility, learn from failures, and assess her own progress. She is actively involved in evaluating her performance and charting her path to success.

RESPONSIVE TEACHING

It can sound counter-intuitive, but this kind of student-directed education actually requires the most masterful, most prepared, most actively engaged teachers. In our mixed-age classrooms, a hallmark of Montessori education, there is no predetermined, cookie-cutter lesson plan that assumes every child needs the same lessons at the same times. Although MSR teachers create conditions for students to complete all the suggested lessons in the week, students do them in the order in which they’re ready for them. If a student is deeply absorbed in a math lesson, for example, she can take some extra time to fully master the skill. And if a student shows a particular interest in a topic—say, whales or stars or the Congo—her teacher will work to tailor the activities in her agenda so that they incorporate more of that topic, while still meeting curricular goals.

In other words, our Montessori-trained teachers plan responsively, preparing individual lessons that implicitly demand students acquire and apply the necessary knowledge and skillsets. They prepare the environment, listen, and actively observe. What is he drawn toward? Where does he struggle and need support or guidance? When is he ready for a bigger challenge? And every week, they conference with your child, working with him to help him set his own goals and track his own progress, stay on course, and challenge himself toward ever deeper inquiry, genuine engagement, and constant skill-building.

COMPREHENSIVE AND CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT

At MSR, teachers assess your child’s progress, not with letter grades or percentage points, but through keen observation, scaffolded lessons, and careful record-keeping.

What if a child avoids a certain area like math or language? Because MSR teachers are attuned to the progress of each child, avoidance in any one area is promptly noticed and addressed. Teachers work to draw out your child’s curiosity in that area and ensure that he completes all suggested lessons within a reasonable time. As a result, he works toward mastery in every subject area as his interest arises, never forced to simply move on with less than complete understanding.

We incorporate testing and other formal and informal assessments when the time is right (e.g., testing begins in Elementary School when documented progress helps inform instruction and showcase growth; grades begin in Middle School when students are ready for more formal commitments, responsibilities, and accountability), but not before.

Throughout Elementary School, children practice directing and evaluating their own learning. Every day and in every subject area, we invite your child into a process of wondering, observation, risk taking, problem solving, reflection, and joyful accomplishment, ensuring that he finds his deepest motivations not in external markers of success, but in the self-sustaining and irrepressible desire to learn.

As a parent, I’ve learned that the most important assessment of my daughter’s performance isn’t going to come from me or from any test or teacher. It has to come from her. This was an amazing wake-up call for me. –MSR parent