EXAMINING THE INTEGRITY OF TEACHING STRATEGIES IN A DIVERSELY POPULATED MONTESSORI PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A NARRATIVE ANALYSIS
Using Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger, 1957) as the theoretical frameworks alongside the metaphorical backdrop of the tip of an iceberg, this research study examined the integrity of teaching strategies public Montessori elementary school teachers used. With increased public Montessori interest and the uncertainty of aligned Montessori practices, public schools have become vulnerable to Montessori instructional strategies implemented without integrity. Data referencing public Montessori included assessment outcomes and surveys, journalistic narratives, and state quantitative studies with a limited focus on Montessori instructional practices (Lillard & Else-Quest, 2006; Lillard, 2011; Lillard, 2012; Roemer, 1998; Sparks, 2016). The gaps of research literature excluded alignment to research-based methods assessing the integrity of material usage and practices, given the need to analyze public Montessori (Lillard, 2011; Lillard, 2012). This study involved a qualitative narrative analysis, which retold the stories of two public Montessori elementary school teachers in a southeastern state’s only public charter Montessori elementary school (Feldman et al., 2004; Grbich, 2013). Findings revealed the integrity of the Montessori Method began with grace and courtesy practices guiding the school’s family culture. Inconsistent disciplinary practices caused disproportional minority out-of-school suspension percentages, revealing the need for faculty and staff to combine the school’s culturally responsive discipline practices with cultural responsive pedagogical instructional practices (Cramer, Pellegrini-Lafont, & Gonzalez, 2014). Findings revealed the school’s association with the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA) normalized its lead teacher training to protect the integrity of Montessori implementation. However the absence of consistent teacher assistant and substitute teacher training minimized the continuous effectiveness of the Montessori Method when lead teachers were absent. Montessori’s philosophy of following the child served as the teachers’ main instructional strategy, wherein individualized instruction sealed the integrity of Montessori Method implementation. It was recommended for future studies to explore: (a) the public Montessori curriculum in alignment to culturally responsive disciplinary and instructional practices, (b) the teacher assistant and substitute teaching training received in alignment with the NAMTA criteria, and (c) the integrity exuded in the implementation of individualized instructional strategies when teacher and student formative assessment measures were used.
Ball, Tamika Nicole