In the past few weeks, after we posted an Instagram photo of a team meeting, we’ve had a number of individuals, teachers and administrators reach out to see if we would be willing to share insights into how we conduct our team workshops. We thought it might be helpful if we share a few thoughts, and a few details, on how, more exactly, we structure these events. Of course, we would love to hear from you as well, as we’re always looking for new ideas and ways to enrich Baan Dek.
Needless to say, we are constantly working on ways in which our team can improve, to get stronger, stay motivated and communicate more directly, positively and effectively. As many of you have already heard us say, we believe that a school should be a machine in the way it is run, not in the way it teaches, and we concentrate extensively on how to optimize these conditions.
We look for points of conversation everywhere.
As a frame of reference, and to get us started, we thought it might be helpful if we outline, not only how we structure our meetings, but also the frequency in which they are conducted, who is involved in the discussions, and the content that is presented - paying particular attention to how we converse about the topics.
Essentially, we have three categories, or types of meetings:
1) individual meetings, which are scheduled impromptu, whether by the admin or the team member, when a topic of conversation arises that we think we can work through together ad hoc.
2) weekly individual meetings with each classroom, to discuss insights from spontaneous classroom observations, which allows us an opportunity to observe, discuss, and improve.
3) and, lastly, a weekly meeting with the entire team, to take a look at upcoming events, chat about our favorite moments of the week, and sometimes just to be in each others presence.
We look for inspiration everywhere.
Which is to say, we’re constantly looking for helpful resources on communication, team-building, and improvisation. Basically, shared life philosophies. And maybe life is the key word here. We find that the greatest moments of collaboration happen, not always at a predestined “collaboration meeting”, but instead when we are tidying up the classroom, sharing a coffee, or discussing the latest news.
When we are sharing our lives with each other, amazing things naturally seem to happen.
We recently discovered this lovely quote from Miles Davis, which was the subject of our last conversation. If you think of the Montessori classroom in terms of music, an improvisation between varyingly degrees of personalities, each with individual contributions and expressions, you can really find the joy in what Davis relays.
Describing the work of Dizzy Gillepsie and Charlie Parker, Davis wrote in his autobiography: “Their concept of music was more rather than less. I personally wanted to cut the notes down, because I’ve always felt that most musicians play way too much for too long. I wanted the music this new group would play to be freer, more modal…I wanted them to go beyond themselves.”
To go beyond themselves...
Miles Davis continues: “See, if you put a musician in a place where he has to do something different from what he does all the time, then he can do that - but he’s got to think differently in order to do it. He has to use his imagination, be more creative, more innovative; he’s got to take more risks. He’s got to play above what he knows - far above it - and what that might lead to might take him above the place where he’s been playing all along, to the new place where he finds himself right now - and to the next place he’s going and even above that! So then he’ll be freer, will expect things differently, will anticipate and know something different is coming down. I’ve always told the musicians in my band to play what they know and then place above that.”
This is a really wonderful way of describing the excitement that happens in Montessori classrooms on a daily basis. Some days, the music is more, when you know it should be less. Other days, you know that you've found it, whatever it is - you just want to live there, in that moment. When we know each other, when we can push each other, and pull each other in, it's easier to find that perfect place, where the music just makes sense.
That's what Montessori allows. The harmony to carry us, the inspiration to follow us, and the environment to help us go beyond ourselves....