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The 8 signs you’re a truly successful person. (Even if you don’t think so!)

At one time or another, most of us have fallen prey to impostor syndrome. No matter how qualified we may be or how hard we work, there’s that nagging voice in our heads that suggests that maybe we’re frauds who are undeserving of our accomplishments, our promotions, or even our jobs. As a teacher and a writer Click here it’s easy to overlook your accomplishments and here’s how you can spot them. 

However, we can take some comfort in the fact that many of the most high-achieving people of our time suffer from imposter syndrome too, from Tina Fey to Sheryl Sandberg.
We’re often a lot more brighter and talented than we believe, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Here are eight surprising signs that you’re a lot more successful than you (or that pesky voice of doubt) may know.
1. You use your time wisely
Successful people don’t waste their own time. This could mean getting up early, or spending time with your kids, or just taking care of all the little errands cluttering your schedule. If you actively work to accomplish your daily goals, instead of watching reality television, you’ve already mastered one of the most crucial personal and professional skills.

According to Thomas Corely, financially successful individuals spend only an hour or less watching television and spend more time focusing on their daily to-do lists and reading.
2. You don’t let failure discourage you
If you focus on your successes, however big or small, instead of obsessing about your failures, you’re more of a winner than you realize. Too often in life, people’s goals get derailed when they focus on their setbacks. But if you have the mental fortitude to pivot in a more productive direction when things go wrong, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Take investor and Shark Tank host Mark Cuban, for example. When he got fired from a small computer store, he used that failure to his advantage. He took his skills in tech and salesmanship and launched his massively prosperous entrepreneurial career. If you set out to make your own luck, the possibilities are truly limitless.
3. You go the extra mile
Doing the bare minimum might allow you skirt by in your career, but it probably won’t make you stand out or help you catch your big break. But if you’re the kind of person who makes an effort to go above and beyond what’s expected of you, that’s a surefire sign that you’re a hard worker who deserves that promotion or raise, no matter what your voice of doubt says.

Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk get ahead of the competition by clocking in more hours than your average business person. While you probably shouldn’t work 80 hours a week like Musk often does, you can apply this trait on a smaller scale to get ahead in life.
So whether you work a little overtime, or help a new hire learn the ropes, or brainstorm ideas to help your company grow when it’s not required of you — all of this shows your dedication to your team and your company. Hard work will get you noticed.
4. You’re an attentive listener

Being able to take in what your employees, family, or friends tell you is an undervalued skill, but being a good listener can open doors and opportunities for you. For billionaire and investor Richard Branson, being a good listener and good leader go hand in hand. “Great listeners are often terrific at uncovering and putting in place strategies and plans that have a big impact.” If you use this gift to your advantage, you’ll be able to address problems effectively and improve your working and personal relationships.
5. You’re a constant learner
Many people believe education stops after graduation, but if you’ve cultivated the habit of being a constant learner, you’re already ahead of the game. Reading educational books and biographies or listening to an informational podcasts might seem like small-time activities, but they can actually have a profound effect on your chances of becoming successful.

Some of the world’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs — from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey — started from humble beginnings, but they attribute their rise to the top to investing in continued education. Attending seminars and conferences in your field or taking online classes is another indicator that your sharp and reflective mind is bound for great things.
6. You welcome constructive criticism
Taking in constructive criticism is not only an essential professional skill, it’s also an important opportunity to grow as a person. People who welcome these kinds of honest evaluations, understand that no matter how self-aware you are, sometimes you need outside input. Accepting the reality that no one is perfect and that there’s always room for improvement is a trait many influential and powerful people share and thrive off of.
A study conducted by PsychTests revealed that employees who react defensively to constructive criticism are more likely to be unsatisfied with their jobs and have poorer performance ratings. Successful people take honest feedback in stride, and they don’t let it ruin their job outlook or work performance. They do the opposite.
7. You enjoy helping others

Success isn’t all about growing your financial assets or status, but making your day to day life meaningful. If you love assisting people or providing value to clients and customers, that’s an excellent way to achieve that kind of success. Albert Einstein, one of the most accomplished and influential scientists of all time, once said “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
8. You take care of your health

Taking care of your mental and physical well-being is another indicator that you’re more successful than you think you are. It takes a lot of discipline to routinely exercise, meditate, eat right, or participate in other healthy lifestyle practices when the throws of daily life often work against us. That discipline and ability to form healthy habits can translate to your work ethic and your ability to accomplish your life goals.
Many of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs find a direct correlation between working out and their productivity. Take it from the CEO of MWI, Josh Steimle, who makes exercise one of his biggest priorities. “If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down … I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control.”
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Montessori or Mainstream? You decide! 

As a Montessori teacher who is very active in the educational sector, one question I often get from fellow teachers is “What is Montessori education and what makes it different to mainstream education?” With the answer being so immense, it is often hard to wrap up in several sentences or a sweeping statement. But there are fundamental differences between the two philosophies that are very digestible, and today we will discuss those differences and the impacts they have on today’s education of young children.

The first and most fundamental difference between the two education platforms is that the Montessori methodology is based around what Maria Montessori called ‘the prepared environment.’ The prepared environment is one which is designed to be attractive and tangible, to allow children to flourish as whole children. Montessori argues that, “If we want the school to become a laboratory for the observation of human life, we must gather within it things of natural beauty.” (1991: 114)
A carefully prepared environment encourages independence, free will and responsibility. It is carefully prepared by the teacher based on observations of the children. To a certain extent, mainstream classrooms also have a prepared environment, but the fundamental difference is that within the Montessori setting, children are free to choose activities as they wish and with whom they wish to work. The environment within a Montessori classroom will look very different to that of a mainstream room. Montessori rooms are filled with tactile materials that allow for almost unlimited exploration and experimentation. A good mainstream teacher will also have several investigatory activities around the room, but the distinct difference is that children in the Montessori environment are free to choose which subject they will work on and when. A good example of this is within a Montessori classroom where we may see a child using the decimal checkerboard. Almost automatically, children will try to extend themselves using three of four decimal placed numbers, but within a mainstream classroom we often see that extension activities may only consist of a shelf with extra worksheets, labelled ‘fast finishers.’ Because of the lack of educational materials in a mainstream classroom, differentiated activities can be very laborious for the teacher to organise.

Having the environment prepared in such a way, Montessori children are encouraged to be active, not passive. Teachers of Montessori children are trained to inspire the children and ignite the flames of inquiry. A lesson in a Montessori class will usually involve a small group of children manipulating something: a plant, an eyeball, a map or a timeline. Something many teachers can only dream of in a mainstream room. The Montessori materials work alongside the teacher to allow the children to discover findings for themselves. “It is passion for knowledge rather than attention which now animates our young people.” Montessori (1965: 128)

Generally speaking, in the mainstream sector we see large groups of children listening to the teacher feed them information and subsequently being tested on these facts. With the influence of standardised testing and national rankings, we see that mainstream schools are putting more emphasis on ‘the facts’ whereas Montessori placed her assessments on the discoveries of the child. There are occasions within a mainstream classroom where teachers have the ability to work with small groups, such as guided reading sessions, but the reliance that the children have upon the teacher makes these sessions, once again, few and far between.
As we know, timetabling is a huge part of the mainstream education environment. Subjects are timetabled accordingly to match the requirements set out by the government. Whilst this is perfect when the school is asked for accountability towards subject time allocation by the government, Montessori saw these time constraints a huge problem when considering the learning potential of the child. In a Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to work on a project for as long as they required. Interrupting them would be a crime. This allows for deep understanding and discovery. It does, however, have its setbacks. It forces the teacher to be extra vigilant on record keeping, as a Montessori teacher must know exactly where each child is on their timeline of education. Each child must be closely monitored so that no subjects are left out. The lack of timetabling also proves difficult for Montessori schools to prove their time allocation easily when required by the authorities. Ultimately, with a good teacher in the room and a deep understanding of the Montessori philosophy and pedagogy, a child who is allowed to focus on an activity for longer will end up with a deeper understanding.
The role of the teacher is very different in the Montessori environment compared to that of a mainstream classroom. Traditionally, lesson times and structures are predetermined in mainstream classes. Groups of children as large as 30 are taught at the same time under strict time constraints. On the contrary, in Montessori classrooms, the children have an instilled sense of freedom and responsibility. With Montessori classrooms designed vertically, a teacher can give small differentiated lessons to groups or an individual. For example, a lesson on angle construction in a mainstream room may involve a whole class demonstration on a big board, where it is very hard for the children to see the intricate workings of the protractor or the compass. In the Montessori environment, teachers are able to sit with a small group, allowing the child to come to a deeper understanding of the concept.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Montessori rooms are designed vertically, which means a typical class can contain up to three different grades. A cycle 3 class may contain 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds and is determined by their developmental progress. This is very different to a mainstream class, which will only accommodate one grade at a time. The implications here are enormous. The Montessori child will automatically have good role models, will develop a sense of responsibility to younger peers as he/she moves up within the hierarchy, and will rely less on the teacher as he/she understands that their peers can be just as beneficial. Mainstream schools also have these factors in place in the classrooms. Teachers will allocate jobs for students who they deem responsible enough for the role, groups may have leaders, and specific areas of the room may have monitors. The fundamental difference between the two is that within the Montessori environment, these roles develop organically without the teacher’s influence and this has huge implications for future developments and responsibilities.

Montessorians believe that the rewards for producing a piece of work are the ones felt by the child internally; the sense of pride a child feels for their achievements or new discoveries. It is natural that children want to impress their teacher, but in a Montessori classroom, questions from children such, “Do you like my work, Gavin?” are met with responses that ask the child what he/she thinks of their own accomplishments. Putting the emphasis on the child allows them to think about why they produced the work in the first place. As Eissler says, “She created an environment in which the children received positive and negative feedback from the daily interactions with classmates, the materials and the self-guided trial and error process.” (2009: 104)

Work is not produced to receive praise from the teacher, a tick, a positive comment or a gold star. For a Montessori child, it is for the feeling of self-accomplishment and pride, which later develops into an understanding of the big picture and the impacts of our actions on the world around us. Although this philosophy is starting to change in mainstream classrooms, with an influx of project-based learning in mainstream education, it is still very common for children to receive stickers, stars, scores and charts for work they have submitted. This forces the child to have a sense of reliance on the teacher and ultimately takes away the responsibility to one’s self.
A dynamic mainstream teacher can be an inspiration to the children in their class. They can lead the children on the path to discovery; they can be the bridge between the child and knowledge. There is no doubt about that, but mainstream education is still somewhat restrictive compared to Montessori methods. It is designed to meet the needs of the main bulk of the class whilst expecting the teacher to differentiate lessons and planning to cater for the extremities of the class; the children with educational needs, be it gifted or not. It proves difficult for teachers to keep reinventing the wheel, to keep thinking of new ways for learning to be fun whilst tailoring to the needs of the class. This is why we see a huge amount of teachers walking away from the profession with stress. The efforts are too large to take on. Montessori stated that, “The child loves everything that he learns, for his mental and emotional growth are linked. Whatever is presented to him must be made beautiful and clear, striking his imagination. Once this love has been kindled, all problems confronting the educationist will disappear.” (1989: 17)
Montessori education is designed so that the teacher is the bridge between the child and knowledge that follows. That bridge is the materials. Once the teacher explains how the materials are used, the child will be allowed to choose them at will to set sail on the seas of discovery. The teacher will be the wind that gently guides the child on this discovery. The materials allow for lessons to be differentiated easily and the fact that they are beautiful and tactile makes them enjoyable. Children want to use them; they want to discover what they have to offer. The prepared environment, the materials and the role of the teacher are the fundamental differences that make Montessori education a hot topic on the lips of anyone in the educational sector at the moment. The more we can integrate Dr. Montessori’s philosophy into the mainstream education sector, the better.
In conclusion, we can see that there are differences between the two pedagogies and each have their implications on young children today. We all learn through our sensorial pathways; sight, smell, sound, emotion, touch and taste, and it seems that because of the prepared environment and the carefully designed materials, Montessori has more to offer the child in this department. Learning seems easier and less predetermined in Montessori classrooms. On the other hand, mainstream education allows teachers to meet the government’s time allocations more easily and requires less strenuous training. In order to be a Montessori teacher, you must understand with great clarity all the materials required for the classroom, and this takes time, practice and a lot of money. So, in order to answer my initial question of ‘What is Montessori education, and what makes it different to mainstream education?’, the important thing to remember is that it is different. It’s different in its origin, its delivery and its results, but Montessori’s theory is based on producing children of the world, children who can make changes for the better, children who understand the consequences of their actions. And, in today’s world, I believe that now, more than ever, we need children with these strong morals as the leaders of tomorrow.

Montessori’s mixed age classrooms are what our children need! 

In this article we will compare Montessori’s ‘vertical’ age groups with traditional age grouping and the different opportunities to establish good social habits, respect, and positive relationships. We will discuss the advantages of a child completing the final year in a 9-12 cycle and understand the importance of this transition.
It is common knowledge that mainstream classrooms are very different from the environments established by many Montessori teachers. One distinct difference between these two systems is that the mainstream classroom caters for one year group at a time, whereas a Montessori classroom will see a mixed or vertical group of children spanning across three years. The implications for this are many, but today we will discuss how the vertical classroom assists the child both socially and emotionally, focusing specifically on the cycle 3 environment.

Maria Montessori stated that ‘Segregation by age as in traditional schools breaks the bonds of social life, deprives it of nourishment’ (1988: 225) and it is this statement that sets the basis for this paper.
The journey through school for most children can be sometimes difficult to say the least. There are many pressures at work on the social and emotional stability of the child as they navigate through the minefield of self-discovery and the exploration of the world. Montessori understood this and developed a system that would allow for that pressure to be eased, not by the teacher, but by the students themselves.

As a child travels through the planes of development towards maturity, they leave behind the egocentric view of the world and start to develop the ability to see the world from another’s perspective. They understand that they too can be leaders, they feel empowered and responsible, but with that responsibility comes a great deal of power and respect. But how do these factors allow Montessori children to excel both socially and emotionally?
Mainstream classrooms tend to put the teacher on a pedestal at the front of the room, dictating information to 30 or so children of the same age. The teacher informs the children on what subject they will be studying, worksheets are distributed, facts are relayed and copied, then revised and tested. Each child is fed the same information and differentiation is usually implemented through outcomes. The chance for leadership, responsibility and intuition is usually directed by the teacher. The table monitor, the class helper, the messenger, all selected by the teacher depending on how the teacher views the child. This lack of ownership over responsibilities within a working day are something that you will not see in a Montessori classroom and this is down to the genius of the three-year cycle implemented by Maria Montessori.

Firstly, it is important to understand that children need good role models around them as they mature. If we want children to walk, not run in the classroom, then we as teachers should walk. If we want them to talk quietly, then we as teachers should talk quietly. This is common in most classrooms, no matter what the methodology, but what if it was the children, not the teacher who was the role model. We have all heard a teacher tell students, “You are the oldest in the school and you should be setting the example!” In the Montessori environment, Grace and courtesy are encouraged from the moment the child enters the school, and this means the children set the example from a very early age.
Having three grades in the same room allows for younger children to look towards the elder children as the example. Similarly, it allows the older children to develop leadership skills and intervene naturally. As part of a child’s development in cycle 3, we often see 11-12 year olds take ownership of the classroom automatically. They develop a sense of responsibility in the room and respect from their younger peers.

Because the teacher is not set up as the oracle in the room, the younger children will not only look towards the teacher for guidance, but also towards the older children, who themselves have had good role models and the cycle continues. Leadership opportunities are not orchestrated by the teacher but manifest themselves spontaneously. Montessori understood that children in cycle 2 and 3 needed to have freedom and responsibility. Not just a responsibility to themselves but to the others around them. With this newfound power, they understand that they can make a difference and that difference usually starts in the classroom and escalates into the wider environment as they mature and grow.
In a Montessori school, we see that the efforts of the cycle 1 directors to establish a simple understanding of respect for one’s environment and the others around them, has profound effects on the child as they move through to cycle 3. Simple tasks such as cleaning your plate after eating a snack and putting it away in the correct place, which are implemented during practical life activities in cycle1, will have huge impacts on the child as they move towards the end of cycle 3. They now feel a sense of respect and responsibility for the places in which they live and learn. This can lead to wonderful projects such as fund raisers, cleaning local parks, raising money for the needy or changes to the room to improve the efficiency of the learning environment, all suggested and implemented by the children.

It is these examples that have lasting effects on the younger peers who see them occurring. They too feel empowered. It is rare that in a Montessori school we see such things as bullying. This is because of the social justice enforced by the children; they lead by example and tackle injustice with calm and careful resolve. The younger children have 3 years to watch and learn from the leaders above them and this is something that would not happen in a mainstream classroom.
Maria Montessori was an advocate for world peace. She wanted to provide an education system that would produce children who were aware of the consequences of their actions, who believed that they had the power to make a difference. She wanted to make the world a better place. Having a sense of morality is important, but equally as important is the development of collaboration and leadership. ‘
A stereotypical mainstream classroom usually has students sitting in designated seats, working individually or in pairs. Teachers don’t have too many opportunities to allow leadership roles and collaboration organically. Activities such as guided reading allow children to work in differentiated groups and take charge of the tasks in hand, but these opportunities are few and far between. This can affect the way that children in traditional school develop socially as Lillard indicates, ‘Social life consists of sitting side by side and hearing someone else talk, but that is just the opposite. The only social life that children get in ordinary schools is during playtime or on excursions. Ours live always in an active community’ (1972: 56)
Within Montessori’s vertical classroom, focusing on cycle 3, we see this exposure to leadership take place on a daily, if not hourly basis. Children in the younger years often seek advice from older peers on subjects they need revision on. Tasks such as the decimal checkerboard or long multiplication can be delivered by the older students. This sense of collaboration is almost automated in a Montessori classroom. Presentations can be attended by anyone in the room. Montessori argues that ‘One can always go for an intellectual walk!…a child of six may comprehend a little of what a nine year old is doing and may stay to watch, learning something from it.’ (1988: 207)
Similarly, if a lesson on the functions of the human heart is being delivered to a group of 11 year olds and a younger student decides to attend and work alongside the older peers, then this is encouraged. The older children automatically take a leadership role, modelling good behavior, a high standard of work and a sense of maturity whilst working. Something that would be almost impossible to experience in a mainstream classroom.
As children in cycle 3 near the end of their primary years, they start to develop both emotionally and physically. The vertical classroom acts as an area of comfort as children move into their teen years. The fact that Montessori classrooms encourage discussion, not just academic discussion but emotional and moral discussion, allows the older groups to rely on each other for support. They have learned throughout their years to nurture and to care for their younger peers and now it is time to look out for one another, to care and discuss feeling and emotions. Topics that would rarely be discussed in a mainstream classroom. Eissler states that ‘Anything can be discussed between students in a Montessori class at any time. Help can be requested by anyone, and of anyone…Montessori is a community.” (2009: 219)

In conclusion, the implications for vertical classrooms are enormous. They not only allow children to collaborate with older or younger peers, they allow children to have real life role models whom they respect and admire right in front of them, each and every day. They allow older students to resolve issues independently and set the scene for the emerging learners to follow. These factors allow students to leave cycle 3 and transition into high school with a sense of responsibility, a deep sense of morality, knowing full well their ability to make a difference and tackle injustice in the world.

Lillard.P. (1972) Montessori – A Modern Approach. New York: Shocken Books
Eissler.T. (2009) Montessori Madness. Georgetown: Sevenoff LL
Montessori. M. (1988) The Absorbent Mind, Oxford: Clio press Ltd

He’s Writing 7 Books, on 7 Continents That Every Teacher Needs! 

Sydney teacher and children’s author Gavin McCormack is on a mission to help teachers and children deal with real life issues children face in primary schools. His big plan is to write 7 books, on seven continents, each delivering valuable learning tools for primary aged children and he’s just about to release book number 3. 
So far, Gavin has written three books, the first dealing with the importance of inclusion, the second discusses the importance of kindness and his new book, being released in October is based around the importance of true friendship, over material possessions.

Having being bullied himself as a child, 18 months ago Gavin decided to embark on this mission and has just completed several visits to schools during this years ‘Book Week’. He has shared his stories with thousands of children and his books have sold all over the world. “It’s very hard as a small-time author in Australia, when you’re up against big publishing houses such as Penguin or Macmillan” said Gavin. “But I won’t give up.”

“I’m not in this for the money, I truly want to make a difference in the world and If I can do this through my stories, then this would be a dream.” Gavin has recently completed a mission to train teachers and build schools in Nepal and with the support of his local community, Gavin has already built one school on the Indian border and is about to embark on a mission to build a larger school In the Himalayan Mountains. Gavin raised over $16,000 after running the City To Surf dressed a grandma and is going to use the money to build the school for the nepalese people.

Whilst in the Himalayas Gavin put the finishing touches to his new book, titled “Can I Stay Here?” which is based in Nepal and helps children understand the Importance of acceptance and what it feels like to be fleeing persecution. A topic only too apparent in today’s war torn world.

More information Gavin’s Books can be found here

 Ten Things All Great Teachers Do! How Many Do You Do?

Teachers shape the future of our world. They educate our future leaders, and the responsibility of our planet lies in their hands. Quite often we don’t give teachers the credit they deserve. I mean, first of all they spend all day with kids! Something that would drive most of us mad. But beyond that they do so much more. Not only do they teach our children but, because they spend more time with our children than we, as parents do, they are trusted with caring for their wellbeing, both socially, mentally and physically. 

They are a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend and a councillor to our children and while this may seem like enough of a job in itself, they also have to try and squeeze in some teaching along the way. 

Here’s ten things all great teachers do:

1. First, they know every child’s name, not just in their class, but in the entire school, they say “Hello” to every child they meet and always engage in conversation where possible. “How are you? Did you watch the game? How’s your dad? You look cool today!”

2. They talk to children like adults. They reason with them and make them understand that yes, there are rules and expectations in school and this is why. “You can’t run in the classroom, not because I said so, because you might trip, fall into a shape pencil and stab yourself and because I care for you so much, I don’t want you to get hurt.”

3. They allow children to ask questions and investigate, and they don’t pretend to know everything “So that sums up our study of the human heart class!” Said Mr Johnson

“Sir, why do heart attacks occur?” 

“Actually I don’t know, but how about you go and find out and tell us all next week!”

This instills a sense of reality, responsibility and pride as the children get to feedback to the group. Allow them to be the teacher, allow them to be the expert in the field. 

4. They make things real. If your teaching Pythagoras and a child asks why we have to learn it. You’ve got an answer. If you’re teaching exposition writing you allow the children to write to an actual letter to a real person persuading them to do something. Make learning purposeful and real. 

5. They practice what they preach. If you tell your class to be on time, dress smart, show respect, keep their voice down and show kindness and gratitude. Well you better be doing  that yourself. Children are very observant and they will quickly pull you up on it, and the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Is just not good enough.

6. They tell stories. They tell their class about what they’ve been up to, how their evening was and what they’ve got planned. Children like to know you’re human, they like to know you don’t live in the art cupboard and that you do normal human things like shopping, watching movies and even that time you felt down or lonely. You’re a human being, let them know. 

7. They trust their children. You explain to them that the classroom is an extension of their home and you should feel safe in here. “I’m going to leave my wallet on my table and my mobile phone on my desk, I trust you won’t touch it because you trust that when you need me I’ll be there for you. Mutual respect equals mutual trust and if and when that trust is broken it will be a huge learning curve.

8. They tell children that they matter, and so does their opinion. An opinion box on your desk where children can leave anonymous changes they’d like to see in the classroom is a great idea, a daily reflection card allowing children to express what they liked and didn’t like about that day is a great idea. They ask the class to anonymously review their teaching, you might think you’re the greatest, coolest teacher in the world, but how do you know if you’re never evaluated by the very people who look at you all day? 

9. They share ideas with the wider community. A great teacher doesn’t create materials and keep them a secret so they look better than everyone else. They think of education as a whole, a world vision, a change for the future of mankind and with that, great teachers share great ideas and great resources. If they discover something that works, they shout it from the top of the highest mountain and throw photocopied samples from aeroplanes high in the sky so everyone gets a copy. Good ideas change lives. 

10. This is the most important one of all and one that we only find very rarely. Great teachers don’t teach, they inspire. They don’t say “This is how you do it, now go do it”, they don’t say “Here’s the equation now solve it”, they don’t say “This is what it looks like now copy it.” They say “How do you think you do it, please tell me!” They say “Can you find the equation and please test it!” They say “What do you think it looks like?, go find out!”

If you know a teacher who does any of the above, please share this article with them or any teachers who might like these ideas, and similarly if you have any ideas of your own please pop them in the comments box.

Why We Should Let Our Children Jump In Puddles! 

So we’ve all seen it. You’re in the local park and there’s a few puddles lying around from an earlier rain storm.  Like a magnet, children run towards them and want to run into them splash in them and even drink them.  “No no no!” Shouts daddy, “you’ll get all wet!” But are we doing our children a huge injustice by not allowing them this freedom to feel sensations like these? 

The simple answer is yes! Like all of us, children desire enational and sensory stimulation. Why do we go to a horror movie? because we want to feel scared. A roller coasters, because we love the feeling of our heart racing as the wind gushes into your face. 

Children below 8 are like giant sponges, mapping their brain out and learning from every experience. Those learning pathways are heightened even more if they are linked to a sensation or feeling. 

Think of your greatest memories, your favourite movie, your favourite book, the greatest day of your life. I bet they are all attached to emotions or feelings? And it’s those links that make those things your favourite. You remember them quickly because they stimulated your emotions. 

As a teacher myself I pride my power to get children to learn by allowing them to access their senses. On one occasion I was teaching my class of 9 year olds about the human heart. We drew a diagram, took some notes, discussed its uses and then, from under a blanket on the table I revealed 6 lambs hearts, that I’d bought from the supermarket. 

Some kids wanted to touch them,, some children could smell them, they could all see them, some felt sick, other felt excited or amazed. But best of all, every child went home and told their parents about what the heart can do and this is the sign of a truly successful lesson. 
So in answer to my question, should we let children run through puddles? The answer is simple yes! But why? Well first, in order to answer it, answer this:
Have you ever been to the beach without putting your feet in the water to test how cold it is? even if your have no intention of going in. I bet you haven’t and I bet you went home and said “You’ll never guess how cold the water was?” Because you too desire sensory excitement. 
Chikdren crave feelings and sensory activity to help navigate their learning pathways. So the next time your child runs towards a puddle, let them run right through it, even better try to link it to piece of information. It will be a day and a time that will stick with them forever!

But don’t let them drink it!!!

After Watching the Film ‘Lion’ he decided to Build School in Nepal with $4,000.

This is a story of how watching the film ‘Lion’ and one Facebook message changed one man’s life forever and potentially the education system of an entire country.

My name is Gavin McCormack. I’m a Montessori teacher at Inner Sydney Montessori School, an author of several picture books teaching important life lessons for primary aged children and now the man who is attempting to change the education system in the whole of Nepal. Here’s how it all started.

10 weeks ago I went to the movies to watch the film ‘Lion’. I left in tears wanting to make a change in the world but not knowing how. The next morning as I sat in a cafe in Sydney drinking a flat white and reading the newspaper. My usual Saturday morning. “Ping” a message appeared in my inbox from an unknown recipient! Ananda Devkota’, I remember thinking, oh no I hope this isn’t a scammer. My instinct told me to open it, and it was a man from Kathmandu who was running a Montessori training centre asking for some advice.

I replied, and after several days and some conversations we became friends. We discussed Maria Montessori’s vision for self directed education and her dream for world peace. He invited me to visit his training centre to give some training to his staff on classroom management and producing simple teaching materials. I asked my boss Dr William McKeith (am), and once he approved it, it was time to start planning.

So off I went. In my school holidays I decided to book a flight into the unknown and see what happened. And it was at that point that my whole life changed. One simple message was to change my life forever and I would never look back from this moment. Kathmandu is a magical place where the mountains surround this bustling dusty city.

I arrived at his training centre. A small alleyway in the busy polluted streets of Kathmandu. Dogs sleeping in the road, cows blocking the traffic. Through the dust and the smog lay a small room on the top floor of a semi demolished building where miracles were taking place. Literally miracles were happening. And it was this room that was to open my eyes to the difference between the developed and the undeveloped world.

In this room, no bigger than the average living room, 100 women would gather each day to train to be teachers. They would cram inside the 40 degree room each and every day. Making materials, learning teaching techniques and hoping to qualify as a teacher so they could find a job which would enable them to earn a mere 150 dollars per month.

I embarked on a month’s work in the centre, giving lessons on teaching techniques, material making and classroom management but it was soon apparent that these women had very little. This was their lifeline to freedom, but when I was invited to visit a small village on the Indian border, my eyes couldn’t have been any wider.

After being taken around the village by the children who lived there I was invited on a tour of several schools in the Newalperassi district of Nepal. One hot summers day, I wandered into a preschool that looked like a prison cell. The walls were dirty, the carpet old and dusty and it was no place for any kind of education to take place. Inside, two teachers taught 20 children with only 1 book, 1 pen and nothing else. It broke my heart to see this and as I left, I put my hand on the teacher’s shoulder and said, “In seven weeks in my next school holidays, I’ll be back and I’m going to fix this place up for you!”

The state of the room had a profound effect on me and it caused to me consider the education system in the entire country. I decided to take on the challenge but for two reasons. The first was obviously to help the village and the future generations that would be educated there, but the second was to create the first true Montessori classroom that could act as a beacon for other teachers around the country to visit.

They could see how dynamic a true Montessori classroom is capable of being, and how by using the true Montessori method, the future generations of Nepal could be innovators and developers that would help Nepal improve its educational standards.

So, as soon as I got back to Australia, it was time to start fundraising. I only had seven weeks, so it was time to get my granny dress out and run the Sydney marathon, asking my friends for sponsorship. Having only been home from Nepal a few days, I wasn’t expecting much but the money came flooding in from all over the world.

Even my local cafe vowed to give 20c from each coffee sold. Hans the owner at Qube on Bay, in Glebe donated over 1500 dollars alone, and this was simply amazing. I was getting the money to do the job, but in Kathmandu teaching materials are hard to come by and this was going to be a problem.
Working as a Montessori teacher, I reached out to my school community for help. I was astounded by the feedback and support. Children at my school had soup kitchens to raise money, they made teaching materials in class and teachers donated their old equipment to me.  I felt so lucky to be working at Inner Sydney Montessori School.

Maria Montessori always spoke of giving back and promoted a global approach to education targeted especially at the poor, and my school community were clearly in line with this.

After 7 weeks of hardcore fundraising and very kind gifts, I had almost 7000 dollars and 100kg of teaching materials. It was time to get back to Kathmandu and fix up that little school.

But with Nepal being Nepal, things were not going to be that easy. After 15 hours flight, I arrived in Kathmandu late on a Sunday night only to find my luggage was lost, the luggage containing the teaching materials. What a nightmare! With my luggage lost I was feeling a little disheartened but that was soon replaced with happiness when I walked out of the airport to find Anand Devkota and two of my trainee teachers waiting to greet me. I felt so privileged to have such a group of friends a world away from my home. They told me that they were coming with me to renovate the school and I couldn’t have been happier. We called ourselves “The Dream Team” Myself, Ananda, Zuno, pteety and Sandhya.

After a good night’s sleep, there was no time to hang around, I had shelves to buy, books and teaching materials to source locally, so it was time to go shopping and hope and pray that my luggage was found. After 48 hours of shopping for various goods, paints, shelves, merry-go-rounds, school bags etc, I received a call from the airport that my bags had been found in China and were on their way! Hoorah!

Just as we were about to set off, a landslide blocked all roads and floods were causing havoc. We decided it was best if we hired a jeep, got a local to go broken arrow and deliver the goods while we flew down. His journey would be around 16 hours whilst ours was literally 16 minutes. That’s just Nepali roads for you.

We finally arrived all goods in hand, and with three days until the grand opening, it was time to get to work. We had some tea, are Dal Baht and got our paintbrushes ready.

Day 1 was all about primer. The walls were so dirty and filled with dust that we would need to prime them heavily to take any paint. It took all day to prime those walls and ceiling and in 40 degree heat, it’s not easy going. The dirt on the walls was already hidden but this was a world away from what  me team and I had in my mind.

Day 2 was to be s real game changer. We decided to go for s countryside theme. Blended blue sky, lush green hills and a variety of images around the room, hot air balloons, forests, UFOs etc This finished off the room nicely.

Day 3. Early in the morning We set off into the markets to buy a carpet. I decided after much haggling to go for a nice red coloured carpet. It would contrast well with the green fields. Whilst I did this, the dream team set to work unpacking the materials from my luggage and it was really starting to come together.

After 3, 15 hour days the room was ready for the grand opening and we had some amazing news. The mayor was en route and he was bringing the national news with him.

The village gathered around the new school, the door closed and the secrets of our renovation only known by ourselves. We couldn’t wait for the big moment. We bought each child a new school bag containing pencils and a toy crocodile. They’d never seen a teddy bear before and certainly hadn’t had a school bag.

Speeches were made, hands were shaken and photos taken and it was time for the grand opening. The door opened and the ribbon was cut. People looked in awe at their new school. A true Montessori school containing real Montessori teaching materials. Walls painted, pencils, books and even a white board to teach from. It was a great success. Suddenly the prison cell style classroom was transformed into a wonderful world of colour.

People danced, laughed, the children immediately engaged with the teaching materials. Building the pink tower, solving puzzles and drawing. I just knew that this school was going to change the future of this village forever and with that it was time for us to go.​

As the crowds dispersed, the teacher in the room Padma, stood crying. I put my hand on her shoulder and asked what was wrong. She said she’d been asking for money for 17 years but nothing. Then one day you visited and promised to renovate. She didn’t believe I’d return, and to be quite honest I wasn’t sure I would either. But with the help from my friends, the words of support from my family, the teaching materials donated by Inner Sydney Montessori School and the money donated from people all over the world. We were able to turn a dirty old room into a quality teaching environment that will give hope and a better future to each and every child that passes those 4 walls.

Now the school is functioning beautifully. It’s only been a week but the teachers there send me regular updates. Every picture melts my heart. And each and every person who made this happen should be very proud of themselves.
People all over the country are now talking about this teaching environment and are planning to visit it. We have already been inundated with requests for help from other centres around the country and are currently fundraising and looking for our next project. If you know someone please let me know!

But the real thanks go out to everyone who donated their own money, made and donated resources, put their faith in me and my team and believed in making a change. For those people, your name will hang on the wall of this small Montessori school on the Indian border for all of eternity and tonight you can go to sleep knowing that your donation, no matter how small changed the future of an entire village.

Thank you. ❤ let’s do this again!
If you’d like to donate to our next project please click Here or to get in touch with Gavin McCormack please click Here.

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