We are already deep into our work this school year and seeing so many interesting things happening in all of our classrooms. From our toddlers learning the simple joys of being together in a community for the first time to our Elementary students exploring the history of the first civilizations, Greenspring is an inspiring place to be in the fall and all year round. We have a dedicated, caring team of faculty and staff committed to your child’s individual growth. As a team, we came together to discuss something of growing importance in today’s society – photographs.
In today’s world of smartphones and social media, it is hard for us to go a single day without taking a photo of something happening in our lives or sharing a cute video. Our children are inundated with adults seeking to document their accomplishments, their personalities, and their adorable moments. Child YouTube sensations are making millions. Those of us who intentionally do not participate in social media are few and far between.
At our first Faculty Gathering, our guides and administration had an engaging, in-depth conversation about photographing children at school (especially while working in the classrooms). Here are some of the main points we discussed around this important topic:
In favor of photographing children at school:
- Powerful parent communication tool – as parents, it means so much to be able to see what/how our children are doing while at school. A picture is worth a thousand words!
- Education about Montessori methods – Montessori education is widely misunderstood. We want each and every parent in the world to be able to better understand what Montessori is, how it works, and why it’s so beneficial for children. Photos and videos can be a great support with this.
- Stimulates conversation at home – when children can see photographs in their classroom, they can talk more about their experiences, what they were working on, who their friends are, and how they felt throughout the day.
- Precious memories – we all love looking back at the children’s photographs as they grow and mature over the years.
Reasons to minimize photographs at school (particularly during the work cycle):
- Protection of the student’s work and concentration – when in the classroom, the work and concentration of each child is our number one priority. Often, pulling out a camera disrupts this important work, for both the child and for the adults.
- Keeping the classrooms a safe place/sanctuary for the students – many children have become accustomed to having a camera on them at any given moment of the day. We find it important to offer them space where this is not the case. We do not want to hover.
- Respect for the children – some students do not want their photo being taken at all, and we owe it to them to honor that choice.
- It takes the adult’s attention away from the students – if the classroom Guides are focusing on capturing that perfect picture and sending it out to the world, it deters them from their top priorities of giving lessons and observing the children.
After much mindful discussion, thought, and debate around these points, we realized that the arguments for taking photographs in the classrooms generally meet the needs of the adult, while the arguments against taking photographs in the classrooms during the work cycle are generally aimed to meet the needs of the child. While both sets of needs are certainly important, our top priority here must always be the children. Being present with our children in their learning is fundamental to what we do here.
I’m sharing this with you to help you understand that in order to do the very best for your children and each student, you see a shift in the number of pictures of your children at school from your child’s Guide. We will continue to do our best to capture some precious moments and examples of academic works to be shared on our school-wide outlets – in email newsletters, on social media, on our website, and in printed materials such as the Memory Book, magazine, and calendar – because there are so many reasons for and benefits to doing this. Guides will share photos as they are able, without interrupting the concentration or their presence with the children. You will most likely see more photos of the children playing during recess, or of a presentation of polished work. Our partnership with you is so very important to us, and we constantly strive to maintain a balance of doing the very best for the students while also meeting your needs as parents.
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Betsy Wimbrow is the Director of Education at Greenspring Montessori School. As Director of Education, Betsy provides support, guidance, inspiration, and continuing education to our staff, parents and other constituents in Montessori philosophy and best practices, as well as current child development theory. Betsy comes to us with 35 years of classroom experience and a great history of leadership in the Montessori community. She has experience leading programs in both the public and private sectors. Learn more about Betsy.