Most Montessori schools around the world serve children within a unique education paradigm. Their families may or may not have the information about the benefits of Montessori, how it works, or how to raise their children congruent with the values that attracted them to the school in the first place. Getting primary care-givers on board the Montessori bus builds stronger communities and increases learning outcomes for their students.
While family engagement and motivating adult learners to acquire skills and knowledge is imperative to the well-being of our schools, many administrators and teachers do not have the time or bandwidth to organize these opportunities. That’s where I’m happy to step in and help with the heavy lifting! What you have before you are 10 steps that outline how to organize an effective adult education event.
STEP 1: Decide the type of event.
Example: Conveying information, community building, or a workshop to put the learning into action.
STEP 2: Include stakeholders or representatives to event organization.
Example: Invite a toddler parent and a toddler guide to assist in organizing a Toddler learning night. Consider pulling in subject expertise from outside your community as well as within.
STEP 3: Consult calendars and consider timing and potential group size: book venue.
Example: Insure your chosen date does not overlap with holidays recognized by your community members, that it’s the only event that week for the population served and you’re not repeating the same day of the week for events, and that the timing of the event considers family needs such as dinner or bedtimes.
STEP 4: Hone your theme to one idea and three key takeaways for your attendees.
Example: Your Toddler Curriculum Night is a focus on language as a form of expression and the three takeaways for your adult learners include how toddlers are in their sensitive period for language acquisition, an understanding that receptive language occurs before expressive, and for adults to use their best, richest language with their toddlers.
STEP 5: Organize and provide childcare and snacks for any adult-only event.
Example: Rotate support staff that work with the age group you’re serving, supply them with clear expectations including whether they are to include any programming such as a project or dinner or outside time and the autonomy to implement said program, advertise childcare as an option for families and require their commitment to sign up no later than 3 days in advance to insure proper staffing.
STEP 6: Communicate the details of the event including the benefits of attending to both family members and their students.
Example: “Join our resident Toddler expert Ms. Jasmine as she shares tips and techniques to prepare your home for your toddler’s independence! Learn how to reduce your need to intervene with your toddler and create peaceful routines. Located in our Community Room from 5:15-6:00 on Tuesday, October 15th. Sign up for childcare in the office by 10/10.”
STEP 7: Build your presentation based on P.A.C.E.S., a known learning path that insures engagement and retention.
Example: Starting with a Preview of what you’re going to cover and any specific logistics such as an agenda, introduce self and give participants a brief moment to introduce themselves to each other. Activate their prior knowledge of your key subject with a brief reflection or icebreaker. Deliver content in a variety of ways – be sure to include visuals and stories. Provide an opportunity to exercise their understanding of the subject by discussing in small groups or working with a material, or role playing. Summarize the learning by synthesizing what they learned and creating a specific goal for implementation.
STEP 8: Craft your key points with a story arc as a path and use analogies as the vehicle with which to make specific points. Get Creative!
Example: Story begins with a problem you’re trying to solve and involves characters your audience resonate with, the problem initially improves then a disaster unfolds that must be resolved resulting in said resolution.
STEP 9: Balance simple photos and diagrams with headlines or bold questions. Do not rely on your technology though as it’s not as reliable as you’d like it to be! Practice the delivery and remember to have fun while presenting!
STEP 10: Utilize a checklist and do a post mortem review to insure appropriate revisions.
Example: Event considerations: staff parking, childcare, greeters, handouts, snack for adult learners, preparation and clean up of the environment, chair set up, speaker introductions and thank you notes, question and answer panels, and follow up for questions.
– by Tammy Oesting
Tammy Oesting has spent the last 25 years delivering professional development workshops, consulting schools, and educating new Montessori teachers. Her passions include issues of social justice, educating support staff, art education, neuroscience as applied to educational practices, and exploring the magnificence of the world. She is location independent and serves Montessori globally through her company ClassrooMechanics. AMS certified 3-6, 6-12