This summer, I had the privilege of teaching my Montessori Physical Education curriculum at the Montessori Institute of Slovenia. It was my first time teaching my curriculum at an official training center, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. I have presented at several conferences, but this was the next step in my evolution as teacher educator. I knew that I would be working with a US based training center in 2020, but I was thrilled when the opportunity to train overseas came about this year.
The country of Slovenia is beautiful and the geography is remarkably diverse for its small size. The north is mountainous, the west has a beautiful coast on the Adriatic Sea (sharing its border with Italy and Croatia), and all over the country are ancient castles and Roman ruins. I was able to do some extensive sight seeing for the short time I had there, but I would love to go back to see more. Everything is very accessible by car; any border is only a couple hours from the capital Ljubljana (which is located almost at the perfect center of the country).
The school is large and very beautiful, and it reminds me of the school that I teach at in Chicago. However, the main difference is that their school is surrounded by beautiful countryside, yet is only several minutes away from downtown Ljubljana. The arrangement is open, fluid, and clean, with lots of spaces for the students to work, cook, clean, and play. I was very impressed with their gym, and it made my life much easier that they had a decent amount of sports equipment. Here are some pictures of the school so you can appreciate their beautiful space.
I got there late Friday evening, so I had enough time to go to the gym and check the supplies out, but I needed a good night’s sleep before it was time to teach over the weekend. After introducing myself to the class Saturday morning, we headed to the gym to begin playing the games. I would learn later that the students were at the end of their Montessori training, so these games became a source of great relief before the big tests they had to take. Some of the teachers said it was nice to have that physical outlet to get some of their nervous energy out, which they could see also helping the student. What many of the students were surprised about was that the concepts they learned during the PE lessons came effortlessly; they were playing, and couldn’t help but learn. The preconception was that they were going to be too fried from all the studying to be able to learn more, but when the learning came through games and play, that did not exhaust the same mental capacity that "traditional" learning might.
On Saturday, we started with the Great Lessons, and moved through the lessons in Volume one and two that were made specifically for lower elementary. On Sunday, we finished with lower elementary and moved through as much upper elementary as we could. On Monday and Tuesday we started the day with an upper elementary game to wake the students up and get them energized, especially since this was the testing time. Here are some pictures and video of the classroom and physical education teachers learning and playing the games.
The teachers and staff were excellent students, and they played the games well. They had a lot of enthusiasm and great questions, and it made me happy to see how much fun they were having with some of the games. To my benefit, they all spoke English very well, so there was little lost in translation during the actual instruction. Attentive and eager to play, the teachers saw the benefit of integrating the Montessori classroom with the physical education classroom, which made my job that much easier.
Part 2 of the blogpost will be will be the exciting conclusion focused more on the sightseeing portion of my trip.
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Thanks, we will see you next week.