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Entries in Montessori education and training (14)


Creative Art idea, submitted by Ann Mannie of Greenville, NC.

The following is a conversation Trudy and Ann had about the use of balloons:

Ann: My question to you is a safety issue. The project uses partially inflated balloons as a tool for painting. The children loved the bright colors and the squishy, bouncy feeling of the balloons and enjoyed mixing primary colors. I used helium balloons and only partially inflated the balloons so that they were less easy to pop, but I started to get concerned about balloons as a choking hazard with young children (and that they can be inhaled and not easily dislodged) so I have taken up the project for now. What are your thoughts about balloons in the classroom with young children?

Trudy: I am aware of the standard warnings on latex balloons for children under 8 years old. I am very big on safety, however, I believe this balloon Art exercise poses no threat to children. First, no primary-aged child is going to be tempted swallow a balloon with paint on it. Second, the Montessori classroom is all about observation. An adult is always aware of who is working with the balloons and observing. Any child working on this particular Art exercise will have had a proper demonstration, which could include a “safety warning.” Naturally, you would not put this activity out until the class was normalized. If we carried each “safety issue” to the extreme, then certainly we would have to remove all knives, sewing needles, magnets, marbles, small beads, glassware, etc. from the Montessori classroom. In this case, the three balloons sitting in paint are just fine!

Thanks for your reassurance about the balloons in the classroom. My daughters agreed with you, saying that if we have knives and pin punching tools in the classroom, we should be able to handle balloons also! That said, I feel comfortable with the balloons and will use that as my art activity. 

So, readers...what do you think? We welcome your comments!


Seven Essential Traits of Leaders (cont.)

Integrity is another important quality of good leadership. The effective leader firmly adheres to his or her code of values. This does not mean that the leader is an inflexible person; to the contrary, effective leaders are often highly flexible and willing to compromise on many issues. However, effective leaders will not compromise when their core code of values are challenged. 

Integrity is important for two reasons. Adhering to a code of values is essential to an individual's self-worth. Without self-worth, an individual cannot lead effectively. Producing movement and change frequently results in a barrage of challenges to the leader's role, expertise, and value to the organization. Without self-worth, it is unlikely that the leader will "survive" the barrage. Secondly, people expect leaders to operate on a high ethical plane; if a leader shows a lack of integrity, it is unlikely that the leader's people will follow the leader for long.


Seven Essential Traits of Leaders (cont.)

The second is Emotional Stability

A quality exhibited by many good leaders is having a stable emotional outlook especially in times of crisis. With few exceptions, the great leaders in history have exhibited the ability to control their emotions in the face of immense situations and problems.

Winston Churchill, George Washington, Napoleon, and Robert E. Lee were each viewed by their contemporaries as "islands of calm" during the heat of battle.

 Women such as Rosa Parks, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher- demonstrated a keen mix of intelligence, humility and inner strength.

Why is emotional control important? Consider two people who lose emotional control during an argument. Both lose objectivity. Both say and do things that they later regret. Nothing is accomplished except alienation. Unfortunately this scenario is probably repeated thousands of times each day in the business world. The effective leader, however, keeps his or her emotions in check, thereby remaining in a position to make intelligent decisions, accomplish positive results, and serve as an "anchor" for his or her group during times of change or crisis.

Question: does your administrative and teaching team at school see you as the calm voice of reason even in the midst of chaos?


Seven Essential Traits of Leaders

Often we get caught up in the day to day routine of managing our schools that we forget our role as leader. So for the next seven blog posts, UMA will take a look at some of the essential characteristics of leaders.

The first is EMPATHY.

To be empathetic, you have to be aware of the needs of your teachers and other employees, and sensitive to and active in meeting these needs. It involves anticipating the needs and behaviors of your team ( more on being a team later), becoming in effect a "facilitator of change" for them. The more your employees see you as one who effectively deals with problems and seeks opportunities for growth in yourself and others, the more they will be motivated to help you. Empathy enables you to more effectively influence and help individual employees. Empathy also will help you to encourage mutually helpful relations among group members and to win support for positive group effort.

Related subjects to consider: active listening, dealing with anger or frustration, honesty with humility, understanding.

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