While contemporary math instruction focuses on rote memorization of facts and formulas, Montessori math brings a different approach. Dr. Montessori talked about “rules being a point of arrival, not of departure.”
What we do is we give students activities that provide opportunities to experiment, observe patterns, and then make discoveries.
If students struggle, it is the teacher’s role to ask questions and help to guide the students towards the discovery at a level that is appropriate for that student.
This method leads to understanding instead of memorization.
Afterward, the teacher’s role is to help students verify their rule, bring awareness of why the rule works, and help the student articulate, refine, and standardize the language.
All the necessary skills and concepts are covered per grade level guidelines, but the result for the student is understanding through discovery.
Meet Michael Waski.
In 2018, Michael Waski transitioned from the classroom to a new role where he could share his ideas, practices, and enthusiasm with the community of Montessori adolescent practitioners. As the Director of the Math Institute at Great Work, Inc., Michael has truly expanded his message to a global audience.
Under his guidance, the Math Institute has published three of his math books. He has authored five comprehensive review sets, as a recursive daily student work, consisting of over 8,000 unique problems. He has also overseen the production of several adolescent math materials of his own vision.
Michael has continued to travel around the globe to bring his workshops and inspiration to the many fans of his work!
On the Montessori Scene:
Michael has been a lecturer for the AMI/NAMTA Orientation for Adolescent Studies since 2009; he has presented adolescent math workshops at the AMI Refresher Course from 2006 to 2019. In 2016, he presented “The Needs of a Montessori High School” at the AGM in Amsterdam. He is also a four-time guest lecturer for MTIPS on “Upper-El Math Workshops.”
He credits his inspiration for Montessori math to his mentor, John McNamara.
In summer 2020, Michael will deliver an online workshop for Montessori teachers in the Philippines in June and Taiwan in August.
Michael lives outside Cleveland with his lovely wife, Jan. The 80s are his favorite decade. Recently, he has discovered competitive Scrabble and now spends his free time studying thousands of words.
Michael’s inspiring workshops and teaching tools have put him in high demand across the world. In 2016, he appeared at the Montessori Australia Foundation for Adolescent Math Workshop, and in 2014 he was at Opera Nazionale Montessori in Rome. Also in 2014, he was delighted to be speaking at the Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers conference.
Michael holds both adolescent and elementary diplomas from AMI. He completed his AMI Elementary training in Bergamo in 2008, under the direction of Baiba Krumins Grazzini. He also completed the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies in 2005.
Through his working relationship with David Kahn, NAMTA decided to publish his lessons in 2011. This first edition of his algebra book sold over 600 copies and cemented him as a practical, authoritative voice on teaching the adolescent.
In the Classroom:
Michael taught middle and high school (12-18) from 2000-2007 and then high school (15-18) from 2008 to 2018. He has worked in California and Ohio – in private, public, and charter schools – both Montessori and non-Montessori, covering grades 2 through 12.
Beginning in 2012, Michael began informally advising and working with teachers in their own classroom environments. He has now developed a Math Consultation program, with 4 hand-picked advisors, and regularly receives requests for in-school consultations.
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WHAT PEOPLE SAY
I walk away from every Mike Waski workshop learning something new and feeling more confident in teaching integrated math with my adolescents. During workshops, there is time to ask questions specific to what you need in the environment; Mike has so many great ideas to really help students find a love for math!
Mike is a wellspring of knowledge in adolescent math instructional best practices. He freely shares his journey, both successes and failures and is generous with his resources.
Attend the workshops. You will be blown away by the ideas. They will change how you see "lessons".
I can't overstate how fun, informative, and useful these workshops are!
A great resource for truly trying math to work successfully in the Montessori model.