Montessori Handwork Album Progress Updates
Montessori Handwork Album Progress Updates
Handwork Album Ready to GO!!! 21.04.18
Guess what???!!!! I've finished writing my Handwork Album!!!! I really have!!! Here is a sneak preview of the cover.
For me, and my family and many of the people around me, both virtually and physically this is the climatic point of three years solid work. For those of you who have not been involved in the process – let me tell you, it has been huge.
I have been researching writing, testing and reviewing absolutely everything to do with wool. I then configured it all into a comprehensive elementary curriculum that is approachable for people with no experience of craft, but is engaging to those with plenty of experience and are looking for a more Montessori approach.
Last week my fellow teachers from Wa Ora Montessori School and Aroha Montessori, got together to put the Album to the 'Montessori test' – they went over every lesson, story and introduction with fine-toothed combs. It had already been proof read for punctuation etc. - this was about content - and they were rigorous!
They cross referenced to make sure I had explained every term the first time I used it, was consistent in my phrasing and all the instructions made sense. Late into the night, we had made it most of the way through the pile of papers and our brains were fried. They divided the last few chapters up between them and took them away for homework. You have to love the dedication of teachers!
Naively, I thought that once I had finished writing the Album, my job would be done. I had planned to use a publisher so didn’t give too much thought to printing and distribution, but have decided to self-publish. This means I now have to learn EVERYTHING about publishing. You would not believe how complicated it is.
Working out how to get the Album out to those who would like it is my current challenge. I have not slept much this week. Even when I am lying in bed with my eyes closed, officially in sleep mode, I am working on my Album. I’m wondering if I should have used a bigger font for the blurb on the back, if I have forgotten to thank someone on the acknowledgements page, or if I really need all those expensive colour pictures. Or I’m trying to work out the best way to distribute copies to the various countries people might order from, and then I’m panicking that I might not have to distribute them as there might not actually be any orders and I will be stuck with a garage full of books.
For now though, it is time to celebrate and in my family - that means ice-cream! Check out these enormous 'Freak Shakes'! Yes, that is a syringe full of chocolate sauce you see, an the Unicorn Shakes have RAINBOW BACON! - makes all the hard work worth it.
I know this is frustrating but I can’t give you a release date yet, or a cover price. But it is coming. I will be selling it through this website and when it is ready, I will send a discount coupon out to everyone on my mailing list. So if you are keen to own a copy of The Work of Wool: A Montessori Handwork Album, please subscribe and I’ll keep you posted.
Sending my Handwork Album Out for Beta Testing
During the Easter break, I was given a lunchtime slot to speak to the delegates at the Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand Annual Conference, about the progress of my Handwork Album. Up until this point, the developing of the album was something I had done predominantly alone. The children in my class had helped a lot, and the other teachers in my school had been very supportive, but I had not really shared my work of the last two years with anyone.
So, I was incredibly nervous about presenting at the conference – not because I mind speaking to large groups, but because I was afraid I would be speaking to a very small group. I was worried that no-one would come to my talk. Or that they would come, and they would think my work was rubbish. I was worried that I might have missed the mark completely and that my belief that Handwork is the missing piece in the Montessori puzzle is completely misguided. Perhaps teachers already knew how to teach Handwork and felt no need for an Album. Or perhaps they did not believe that Handwork holds any importance and were very happy without it. This was the point where I had made the most personal investment for the least amount of affirmation and I was terrified.
Delegates were invited to bring their lunch to the room I would be speaking in and I have to admit, the choice of room gave me a huge advantage in terms of attendance numbers. In order to be able to use the incredible Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, as a conference venue, the organisers had had to compromise a little on space. This meant that, whilst a fantastic lunch was provided, there was very little space for people to sit and eat it. The room I had been allocated, however had spacious tables with linen cloths and water jugs laid out for my listeners. This did not help my nerves as I was concerned that my audience may have just come in for the tables!
When I began talking, however, I relaxed a lot and really enjoyed telling my captive audience about the subject I have been so passionate about for so long. The proof of the pudding came at the end, when I asked teachers to volunteer to take the section of the Album I have written so far, and test it in their own school. I had prepared ten ‘Test Packs’ which included a copy of the Album section (139 pages of theory, lessons and stories), some wool roving to spin, a drop spindle and several envelopes of laminated pictures to go with each of the chapters.
I made these as I know how busy teachers are, and even with the very best of intentions, it is easy for things to end up in the 'too hard basket' if there is too much associated preparation. As all Montessori teachers know - making card material takes hours and I did not want this to be the reason for teachers not getting around to trying the lessons.
(The envelopes of pictures in the test packs, represented hours of work on the part of some of the amazing children in class. They saw the huge pile of pictures I had to trim and laminate two weeks before the conference and realised I was never going to get it done by myself. So, instead of simply offering sympathy and then leaving me to it, they set up a production line and took turns to stay in at playtime until the job was complete - Montessori perfection!)
To my delight, and slight embarrassment, there were far more teachers willing to take the packs and test my lessons than I actually had packs for. With some negotiations we managed to get the packs distributed and each tester left me their contact details so we could keep in touch. They have agreed to read all of the lessons, test as many as they can, and give me feedback by the end of calendar year. I await it with baited breath!