The staff at Community Montessori felt their antiquated school building was a significant barrier to educational innovation. To overcome that limit and fulfill the highest potential of our program, they chose to use their innovation funds towards purchasing new furniture to help them take advantage of their learning spaces as they are currently configured.

Results - Impact on Learning

During the first school year the new space was used, educators were asked to monitor and track growth towards the outcomes identified in their project plan and present the findings in a digital story.  The story was framed by the question, "How is innovation shifting the story of learning at our school?" 

Project Photos

Project Description

To develop the school's project, staff worked together to develop responses to the following guiding questions. 

1. Briefly describe the project that you plan to implement with your Innovation Funds.

At Community Montessori, our antiquated school building is a significant barrier to our educational innovation. To overcome that limit and fulfill the highest potential of our innovative program, we would propose to use our innovation funds towards purchasing new furniture to help us take advantage of our spaces as they are currently configured. New, cleverly designed furniture will help us use our space more efficiently and support our program’s educational innovations.

2. How will you involve stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning the use of the innovation funds for your site?  

Our staff conversation about the innovation grant began at the beginning of the school year. Everyone had opportunities to share and discuss ideas. Initial consensus was reached around a goal to increase the space in our classrooms. Short of funding to reconfigure classrooms for increased space, we have reached consensus to purchase furniture to use our space more efficiently and to increase beauty and order in our classrooms. We have started our innovation work with our DAT (Design Advisory Team) and we have included our staff in informal discussion about the process as it has evolved. The classroom teachers will have continued input as well as the DAT. We will follow our decision-making process and come to consensus. 

3. How does your project support The Success Effect? (BVSD's Strategic Plan-Mission/Vision/Goals)

Our project, to use new furniture to use our space more efficiently and increase the beauty and order of our learning environments, aligns with the Innovation Guiding Principles and the BVSD Mission and Vision. A Montessori classroom, or the prepared environment, is an uncluttered, well-ordered space where there is room for movement and activity. Everything the child encounters within the prepared environment maximizes student independence and facilitates student-led, inquiry-based, collaborative, exploration and learning. Children must have room to work with innovative hands-on Montessori materials such as the square and cube chains, and the timelines (they are all several feet long). The Montessori materials must be stored so that children can see what is there and access what they need as they are ready. There must be space for groups of children to work collaboratively on projects, and also quieter spaces for children to work independently if they choose to. Carefully constructed Montessori classroom environments constitute one of our programs most important tools for fostering meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for successful, curious lifelong learners. 

4. Review the Innovation Guiding Principles and discuss with your stakeholders. How will your project align to one or more of the guiding principles?

1) Learning is a social process: Montessori classroom environments are carefully constructed to allow children the freedom to interact with one another independently in order to develop a sense of compassion and empathy for others. Collaboration is a developmental tendency of elementary aged children, and a key part of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori classroom environments must provide adequate space for children to spontaneously form temporary groups based on common interests, goals, and needs. Classroom furniture must include a variety of options for children to work on big collaborative projects. Storage for ongoing group projects must be available. Teachers prepare their classroom environments to support student independence, collaboration, critical thinking and time management. 

2) Learning is personalized and learner led: Each student has a work plan they follow on a daily or a weekly basis. Students make choices about what work they want to do and who they want to collaborate with to get the work done. Students will be able to choose which flexible furniture option best meets their learning goal. 

5. Determine what your learning outcomes are for your innovation. What will happen as a result of this innovation?

Students will have the freedom and space to work together to deepen their learning. This gives them the opportunity to do project-based collaborative learning. 1) Students will assume ownership for evaluating and monitoring their progress through their work plans. 2) Students will use create different pathways to meet the learning outcomes according to their personalized needs. 3) Students will work respectfully, collaboratively, and effectively to meet instructional objectives in their new flexible space. 4) Students will work in collaborative learning areas supporting: large group gatherings small group discussions seminar interactions project showcase events 5) Students will work independently, in small groups with the teacher and in student collaborative groups to meet their learning needs. 

6. Determine how you will measure the progress towards and achievement of your learning outcome. What is your plan for gathering data to show that the change is positively impacting learning at your site?

Observations of students - how they work in spaces improved by new furniture Student work samples and work completion data Parent/Students/Teacher surveys District Assessments Educator Effectiveness Standards as measured through teacher evaluation cycles Behavior Data Social Emotional Survey.

7. What professional learning and support might your staff might need in order to reach the desired learning outcomes for the space?

We plan to participate in the innovation cohort offered through Innovation and Educational Technology. We’ll also participate in Montessori refresher courses and use PLCs to focus on the Montessori approach. We will need support connecting our outdoor and indoor learning environments to optimize space.