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Bridie Gauthier @BridieGauthier

Bridie Gauthier @BridieGauthier

Bridie Gauthier is the Head of School of the Montessori School of Manhattan, educational circuit speaker, and author of Practical life for Parents – A Pocket Guide for Parenting Real-Life Moments.

Bridie co-founded MSM in 2002, and in 2011, launched a charitable outreach project, which built and continues to fund a preschool for two and three-year-old children in the impoverished Batey Lecheria, Dominican Republic. To date the D.R. Project has taken more than 200 of the youngest children off of the streets of the village.

Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Bridie has been an educator of young children for 30 years. She left Canada for the bright lights of New York City in 1995, where she met and married her husband Joe. Bridie shares her time running MSM, travelling to the Dominican Republic, to conduct faculty training seminars and to work hands-on with the children of the Batey, public speaking, and spending time with the full-time joy in her life, Kai.

Posted by on in Education Leadership

Decisiveness

Visiting with my good friends recently, their ten-year-old daughter (who refers to me as Aunt Bridie) overheard me talking about some work matters, decisions that I would have to be making, and one particular issue that had become such a thorn in my side I was considering making a final, possibly rash, decision and just ending the whole thing once and for all.

She listened intently to the adults debating the topic, and then said, “Well Aunt Bridie, why don’t you make a list?”

I turned my attention, and asked her to explain what she meant. She headed off to her room and a few minutes later returned with paper and pencil. She sat facing me at the dining room table and said, “Well you see Aunt Bridie, when I have to make a big decision, I make a list of all the good things about it and all the bad things about it.” She then drew what looked like a lower case t on her page. On the top left she wrote “Do it” and on the other, “Don’t do it.”

Interview style, she proceeded to ask me to tell her all the reasons I would “go one way” on this issue, and all the reasons I would “go the other.” I listed all the pros and cons, which she furiously wrote down. When I had exhausted every last point that I could possibly think of, the results were tallied.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous

Smarter

“Bridie, how can we celebrate George Washington’s birthday?”

It was a very straight forward question from a precocious seven-year-old and I jumped on it, eager to teach a little history lesson as well as to encourage use of the internet for actual research and not just a way to see what your friends ate for breakfast.

First, I explained that Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, meaning it can occur the 15th through the 21st inclusive, in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732.

I was even more chuffed with myself to add that colloquially, it is widely known as Presidents' Day and is often an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February. The term "Presidents' Day" was coined in a deliberate attempt to change the holiday into one to celebrate all presidents. I even explained the correct punctuation of "Presidents' vs President's" Day.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous

SHARE

“When you are three, everything is a brand-new Ferrari.”

This was my explanation to a group of parents of preschool-aged children at a recent workshop about sharing, and how to effectively teach this concept to young children. I had asked each parent to come with an example of either a time when they felt sharing worked effectively, or an example of a time when it was a total disaster.

One dad in particular, John, shared how he had been extremely upset and embarrassed over an episode at his daughter’s recent third birthday party. His daughter had opened all of her gifts and was especially excited over her new toy called “Shopkins.” When she was then told to share them with her fellow party-goers who were equally excited about said Shopkins, a full-on, hysterical, screaming, crying, peel-the-pain-off-the-walls-wailing meltdown ensued.

Sharing is a hot-button topic for parents because it is presumed to be an indicator of a child’s successful social and emotional development. It is also falsely presumed to be the same as teaching a child to be generous. Parents worry that if their children do not share well or take turns, then they will not have any friends, or will not turn out to be good people. Naturally, no parent ever wants to see those things happen. Sharing and taking turns are important skills; however, adults often expect them of children far earlier than is age appropriate. Many parents will insist that their children share their belongings with other children. What does this really teach them?

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

LessIsMore

Over lunch recently, the daughter of a good friend, who also happens to be a relatively new Kindergarten teacher, expressed to me that she was feeling frustrated. She felt that she wasn’t reaching her students at the level that she aspired to and didn’t quite know what to do about it.

Having just listened to George Couros discussing, “Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?”, I talked with her a bit about his question and suggested that perhaps looking at the issue differently might give her insight into something simple she might not be readily seeing. Somewhat missing my intended point, she jumped on her own version of this idea and immediately sent a message to a few colleagues to ask if they would spend time in her classroom and offer feedback as outsiders looking in. I said nothing further and simply asked if she would follow up with me in a few days and let me know how it went.

Yesterday, I heard from Cheryl again. She had gone through her self-imposed, self-assessment exercise. While valuable, she still wasn’t feeling that she had really identified the source of the issue. I listened, and then suggested perhaps her peers weren’t the sets of eyes that she should be considering. I was intentionally plural, but she still wasn’t hearing me and this whole story ends with me sitting in the “observation chair” in her classroom for two hours earlier this afternoon.

Cheryl was excited to show me her classroom which she called “progressive”. The room was set up as learning center-based, and the children had freedom to choose which activities they would work on, within a predetermined set of criteria for the day (I couldn’t wait to share with my fellow Montessorians that apparently “freedom within limits” is now considered progressive).

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

onemore

“Because it’s boring!”

This was my 11-year-old niece’s tearful explanation for the recent decline in her grades.  When I calmly asked her to explain to me what she meant by “boring” I got: “Because in middle school you don’t actually get to DO anything. When you’re a little kid like for example, like a Kindergartener, you get to play in the sand table and build stuff with blocks or paint or play dress-up with your friends and imagine all the cool things you want to be when you grow up. And when you’re in high school you get to drive and go to the prom and learn the stuff for college so you can pick a career for when you are an actual grownup. But in middle school ALL we do is sit at our desks and study for state tests. I mean it’s like totally ridiculous! We don’t even get recess anymore. Our teachers are all stressed-out because they don’t want to get put on the ‘bad teacher list’ and our parents all need tutors just to help us with our Common Core homework, and none of it even matters anyway because we all live in the same zip code, so we are all just going to the same high school anyway! You’re a principal, can’t you do something Aunt Bridie?”

Wow. No pressure.

Needing to think fast in order to head off a total tween meltdown, I replayed her answer in my mind to get back to her main point: “...in middle school you don’t actually get to DO anything.” Perfect, she wants something to do.

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