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Welcome to the MTIPS Resources Page

This page contains resources pertaining to Teacher Education, Parent Education and School Promotion. The site is used by educators from more than 60 countries and averages about 1800 views per month.

The information is presented in three different formats: articles, videos, and transcripts from a weekly on-line Q and A chat room called Ask a Mentor. The information is organized by class level, audience, content, and format. Resources pertaining to more than one area are cross-referenced.

Of particular convenience is the search feature at the bottom of the page. You can type in any word and all content with that word will be listed with a brief excerpt to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How To Raise Standout Young Adults

Want a sure-fire way to raise responsible and resourceful children? Good news: It's not rocket science, and it doesn’t require you to be Super-Parent. It requires you to consider only three things

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Four Letter Words


Is work a four-letter word? It certainly has four letters. And for many of us (present author not included) work does carry with it all the baggage of the traditional reference to four letter words, specifically profanity. Many people are in jobs they do not find value in.

I recently heard the former CEO of Baxter say he no longer uses the phrase work-life balance. “If you aren’t living at work, you have a big problem.” He now uses the phrase life balance. It’s all part of life.

I have been reflecting recently about what words we use with our students at school when helping them re-engage in an activity that they have already chosen or helping them to latch on to something new. And I have decided that work is not always the word I want to use. Instead, I have suggested to our staff that we start considering asking our students either what they would like to learn or how they would like to make a contribution (or help the class). I think that both of these expressions are far closer to the experience that our students can relate to and be inspired by.

What words to you use at home? Do you ask your child how he would like to help? What he would like to improve? What he would like to make more beautiful? If he would like to persevere a little longer on a challenge with which he is asking help?

I think these words matter. They are one of the places that we can impart our values to our children. It is subtle, but it is the language that we use with our children that will contribute to the construction of their character.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gateway Parenting

Gateway Parenting

By Wendy Calise
Director, MTIPS

The theory goes something like this: if you use legal drugs such as tobacco or alcohol, or even what some consider “soft drugs” like marijuana, you are more likely to slip down the slope to using “hard drugs” like amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, than people who never get started using soft drugs in the first place. The starter drugs are often referred to as gateway drugs because use of them is seen as the first step through the gateway to even more dangerous behaviors.

But this is not an essay about drug use. Nor is it about some of the bad choices young people make. Rather it is a veteran educator’s ruminations about 21st century parenting – or what I call, Gateway Parenting.

To my knowledge, the words gateway and parenting have not been paired together. But parenting a young child is rife with opportunity to make troublesome choices that seem harmless at the time, notwithstanding the nagging feeling that something is amiss. And much like that only-experimental, peer-pressure-initiated, totally-innocent first puff of a cigarette, oftentimes it leads to more.

So what does Gateway Parenting look like? Does it start with something like you throwing your coat over every puddle so your child doesn’t have to get his feet wet? Or making four different dinners each night before you find one she is willing to eat? Unfortunately not. I say unfortunately because if it started with ridiculous acts such as these, few of us would be guilty. That would be akin to starting out on heroin.

This is what the slippery slope actually looks like. More often it starts with something like this: “Let me help you cut that.” “Sure you can have a bagel while we walk through the grocery store.” “How was school today? Were all of the children nice to you?” “I will tell Grandma you don’t like chicken.” “She was just misbehaving because she had so much sugar.” Or gluten. Or because the other children excluded her. Or the teacher is impatient. Or she fell off her bike earlier in the day.

Listen up. Those are the sounds of your first puffs.

As you read the article, if you are like most parents, you will irrationally assume the article is about you. Not because it is, but because we all participate in these activities at one time or another. And more often than not, thankfully, we see our children in some setting independent of our homes, and we realize that they are capable of much more than we are asking of them. We realize that we are spoiling them, to borrow an old fashioned word. Some of us, however, will continue on to the hard drugs. Some of us, too many I am afraid, are doomed to the life of a junkie. Stressed out and strung out and sure that if we do it one just more time, we promise it will be the last.

Perhaps you have heard horror stories in recent years about parents who show up to job interviews with their children. Or call college professors about a grade on a term paper. Or call their children’s employers about better pay or benefits.

How does that happen? How does a parent get to that point? I can assure you that we would not find among even the most hardened enablers a parent who would believe that he will be the one fifteen years from now to call a college professor. But some of you will. Because once you start doing for your children what they can do for themselves, there is a tragic feedback loop which receives from and expresses to both parties, parent and child. The less your child does for himself, the less you think he is able to do. The less you think he is able to do, the less he thinks he is able to do. The less he thinks he is able, the more convincing he becomes to you that he is not. I am feeling anxious just writing about it.

It goes from having a sippy cup in the car so the children won’t get too thirsty on the seven minute ride home, to carrying their backpacks for them, to dropping off the lunch they forgot in the car, to the quick conversation with the teacher to inform her that she is not handling the social struggle in her class quite fairly, to calling him out of school because he had a lot of homework the night before and worked really hard to get it done, to a quick call to the English professor. Just this once.

And therein lies the real danger of Gateway Parenting. Like many drugs, it is addictive. We all swear we can stop, we just don’t want to. Parenting language equivalent: “I will stop when she is a little older. She’s just a kid. It will be easier later when she can better understand why.” Except it won’t be easier later. It will only get harder. As you continue to intervene, the opportunities for your child to build his skills to manage challenges are passing him by. And with the loss of those opportunities goes the loss of his skills. He doesn’t get any better at solving problems and facing challenges. He gets older, but the problems just get harder and the consequences more dire. And he seems to always be one step behind. And you feel forced to always stay one step ahead.

So what to do? Just say no. No to alternative dinner choices. No to skipping soccer practice because it is raining. No to calling the teacher to let her know that your son would like her to tell Janie that she is hurting his feelings. No to extra allowance. No to driving her to her friend’s house three blocks away instead of having her walk. No to helping with homework. Say no. There is no substitute. There is no workaround.

And when you do try to give up Gateway Parenting, be prepared, your children will make it hard. Your neighbors will make it even harder. And the nanny will make it darn near impossible. Beware, I tell you, the rate of recidivism is high. 

The first part of the struggle will be to recognize when you are doing it. Many suggest that you think of your child’s life as a path. Every day you will face choices that present two options. You can prepare the path for your child by removing the big rocks, the medium stones, and even every little pebble. Or you can prepare your child for the path by letting him face as many challenges as you can stand. This isn’t easy parenting, but it is good parenting. And though it won’t always feel
very good for you, it will make your child’s life in adulthood a whole lot easier.
It really will.

--> Wendy Calise is the Head of School at Countryside Montessori School in Northbrook, IL, where she has been a lifelong resident for 50 years. She is the mother of three, ages 12, 15 and 19 years. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in psychology in 1988 and holds a Masters of Middle School Science from DePaul University. Before her role as Head of School, Wendy taught classes of children ages three to twelve for nineteen years. She currently teachers middle school math. She holds Association Montessori Internationale diplomas at the Primary and Elementary Levels. In 2009 she founded the Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies which offers a variety of professional development opportunities for Montessori teachers as well as support for teachers and schools in the form of mentorship and consultation. Wendy has made presentations for NAMTA, Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand in 2011 and 2016, Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators in 2017, Michigan Montessori Society, and has consulted at schools across the nation topics including observation, class management, writing, literature, character development, mentoring, faculty culture, and peer mentoring.