Tag Archives: time management

Happy Birthday, Maria Montessori — from Google and the rest of us!

31 Aug

Google's Montessori Tribute

Google's Montessori TributeAugust 31, 2012. Today would be 142nd birthday of revolutionary Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori.

To celebrate, Montessori alums at Google displayed a Google doodle of traditional Montessori learning manipulatives on their homepage.  That’s right –  both Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, grew up as Montessori kids.  What’s more, it is this very Montessori heritage that they attribute to their success.

In a 2004 interview with ABC (embedded below), both Page and Brin spoke about the power of self-directed learning in the Montessori learning environment.  “I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders –  and being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world, doing things a bit different,” Page said of Montessori school’s role in his success.  Maria Montessori believed that children had an innate drive to learn and that the educator’s role was to remove obstacles and provide opportunities for the student’s educational growth.  The self-directed Montessori student is then able to concentrate on acquiring knowledge through experimentation with hands-on, personalized activities, according to their own interests and at their own pace.

In fact, Google’s infamous 20% rule – where employees spend 20% of their work week on something company-related that they are personally interested in, something not in their job description – is grounded in this idea of self-directed learning.  And success in the form of Gmail, Google Talk,  Google Maps, Reader and other innovations has been the result.  As is often the case, powerful things happen as the result of empowering people to follow their own dreams instead the dreams of someone else.

So, in Maria Montessori’s honor, I want to take a moment to celebrate her legacy – a legacy of respecting the dignity of every child and empowering children to be masters of their own learning.  Raise a glass, give a cheer… and let’s all spend a few minutes reflecting on our own educational practice, a few minutes dreaming up at least one practical way to give our students more voice in their learning this next week and, in doing so, continuing her amazing legacy.

Happy birthday, Maria Montessori.


The 5 Fave: Time Management Tools for the Creative Mind

20 Feb

Time Management – The linear organization of all things.

The Creative Mind – The sprawling, tangled web of all things.

Perhaps you can imagine the problem of aligning the two?  Perhaps even have the problem?  I certainly do.  And if you’re anything like me, you may appreciate these 5 Fave tools that help get me through the day.

#5 – Google Calendar

What’s great about the Google Calendar is that it can be collaborative and accessible from anywhere.  I set up a Google Calendar a couple years ago to manage the use of the computer lab at school.  By sharing the log-in and a common calendar, teachers can easily see when the lab is available and sign up for their desired time in the lab.  The best part for me is that I use Google Calendar Sync, which automatically sends an event to my Outlook calendar.  Plus, you can even set it to e-mail you with reminders!

#4 – Outlook Calendar and Reminders

I love having a calendar attached to my e-mail management.  Every date and event that is sent to me by administrators, teachers, parents, and students can quickly be added (of course, with strategic reminders to keep me on track).  You probably use a calendar in this way, too.  But have you considered creating events and reminders for regularly occurring activities as well?  This has been so helpful.

For example, I set up a reminder for my elementary staff and me to send in our lunch counts and orders each morning.  You would think I would remember to eat, but as any teacher knows, once a morning gets rolling, it’s like a semi-truck heading down a mountain.  Without something disrupting the momentum, we’re heading to the cafeteria before we  know it.

Perhaps the most embarrassing to share (and yet powerful) reminder I’ve set is one that pops up each morning telling me, “You make a difference in kids’ lives!  Be amazing today!”  This chance to remember why I do what I do and to focus on what’s important is a great way to start my days. (I’m not the only one who gets this reminder at my school, by the way.)  🙂

#3 – The Peaceful Progression Wake-Up Clock

Yes, an alarm clock makes the list.  My creative mind loves working at night, staying up late, sleeping in, and waking up to sunshine. Even living in Florida, that is not the reality of my teacher’s schedule.  This clock is a life-saver.  Beginning thirty minutes before the alarm time, the clock simulates the sunrise. Fifteen minutes before the alarm, you have the option of adding nature sounds (I prefer the birds).  Within a few days, your body’s natural alarm clock will wake up on its own before the traditional buzzing alarm even begins.  (As an added bonus, if you’re anything like me and you still snooze it after this miracle and need the back-up of tool #2, you’ll at least get to wake up to soft light instead of the darkness of early morning.)

#2 – Cell Phone Alarm

I use this not only in the morning, but for reminders throughout the day – what I need at the grocery store, what I need to bring to school for tomorrow’s new project, etc.  The one tip I have to is find something soothing to wake up to.  My favorite is the first 30 seconds of “Hearing Damage” by Thom Yorke.  It’s like waking up to white noise.

#1 – The Non-Planner Datebook

I have never had much success with calendars and planners.  Prior to getting this datebook, I had barely made it a month before losing or discarding the dozens of them I’d tried.  But this datebook by Keri Smith is perfect for the creative mind.  Not only does it have monthly calendar pages, but it also has attractive spaces for lists, doodling, journaling, or writing any of the ideas you have that go with the events on your calendar.  For the first time in my life, I’ve kept a planner for seven months straight.

These five things keep my days in order.  You may not need them or need them all, but for those of us who struggle to straighten the tangled web, they may be just what the doctor ordered.

Use other ideas or tools that you’d recommend?  Share them with us!