Montessori math conference arrives at the perfect time

The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association hosts a double-themed conference in Milwaukee at the Hyatt Regency this weekend.

In addition to discussing “Strengthening the Montessori Culture in the Public and Private Sectors,” the conference, which runs from Thursday through Sunday, will also look at “The Essential Montessori Mathematics.”

The conference arrives here at the perfect time.

First, because this Friday – formerly a day for the state-wide teachers’ conference, which has been canceled – is a professional development day for educators. That means a number of teachers from Milwaukee’s public Montessoris like Craig, Fernwood, Lloyd Barbee, MacDowell, Kosciuszko and Maryland Avenue (there are also district Montessori charters like Highland Community School and Montessori IB High School) will be available to attend.

Milwaukee also has a Montessori training institute, a range of private Montessori schools and this year Wauwatosa opened its first public Montessori program.

It’s also good timing because there is a big push to implement a new district-wide math and science curriculum this year in MPS, so math is on a lot of people’s minds in the district.

“The conference is on math and that is important in that it is an area that our schools need to improve upon,” says Craig Montessori principal Phil Dosmann, who has been heavily involved in the MPS Montessori community for decades. Dosmann’s wife and two daughters also teach in the district’s public Montessori schools.

“While our outcomes at eighth grade are very good, we need to address math instruction at the lower grades. In light of the district’s comprehensive math and science plan this is a good time to have this conference. There are national AMI trainers who are presenting, so they can give a general theoretical approach to how the Montessori student learns and internalizes mathematical concepts.”

Schools will send some teachers to the conference, while other educators will take part in a collaborative professional development session on literacy and math with staff from all the MPS Montessoris. Then, they will all reconvene and share knowledge. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to gain a solid review and insight into our Montessori mathematics curriculum to support instruction in the classroom,” says Joe DiCarlo, principal at Maryland Avenue Montessori on the East Side.

“The staff attending the NAMTA conference will bring back the information and knowledge they gain from the Montessori speakers and break out sessions and share it with the rest of the staff during November staff meetings. During these collaborative staff meeing sharing sessions, the connection between how the Montessori math curriculum is implemented in the classrooms while covering the common core state standards in math will also be discussed.”

The conference also gives Milwaukee a chance to show off its public Montessoris, which – as one of the largest groups of public Montessori schools – are a national model.

Dosmann says, for example, that he’s giving a tour of his school, on the Northwest Side, to representatives from a public Montessori program in Alaska on Thursday.

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