Community Field Experience Location: Lions Gate Montessori (Vancouver, BC)
Grades worked with: grade 1 – grade 9
I recently completed my CFE with Lions Gate Montessori. While it was an extraordinary experience, it raised several questions for me to reflect on as a future educator. The main challenge I faced during my CFE was the lack of scheduling and planning that took place at the school. As an extremely organized individual, and having just completed my 10 week practicum, I found myself slightly disoriented at first at Lions Gate. Each day was different: one day they would start with a dance lesson, then have a presentation on ancient civilizations, then have band practice. I often found myself asking the students “What are you doing next?” to which they would respond “I think we have band… or we may have free time.” Nevertheless, as the days progressed, I learned that the flexible schedule allowed students to obtain a further understanding of whatever they were pursuing, whether it was music, art, French, etc. They took ownership of their learning and were able to spend more time working through challenging subjects if needed, or practice playing an instrument if they wanted a break from academics.
By identifying this gap in my understanding with regards to class structure, I feel I was able to reflect on my own practice during practicum and brainstorm what I could do differently. My CFE challenged me to think outside the box and think about how I could incorporate flexibility into my lesson plans. While there was a lot of freedom associated with my summative projects during practicum (e.g. allowing students to choose a city to analyze), I feel I could further introduce freedom and flexibility in my lesson plans. Moreover, I believe that my experience in an alternative educational setting has opened my eyes to the various ways in which a class can be organized and has encouraged me to apply it to my own practice.