Montessori Leadership Institute

Learning Support Agreement (LSA) for

Building A World-class Montessori School


An Online Course offered by The Montessori Foundation


Please read this document carefully, as it covers some important information about the upcoming course. If you've never taken an online course before, this should be a fascinating experience! To make this course as positive and successful as possible, we ask you to agree upon the following guidelines.


Once you've read the LSA, please send a short reply email, so we know you've read it and agree to its terms. Don't worry, it's non-binding, but it confirms your commitment to participate fully in the class. This is important because this is not simply a class where you listen, read, and respond. It is a practical process oriented experience that is intended to help you accomplish the goals necessary to build a world class Montessori school.


As you will see, part of this course is theoretical, applying to Montessori school development and management in general, and a large part is intended to be very specific to your school.

Rather than working only on your own, I want to encourage you to learn from and with one another. Hopefully, the colleagues who you will work with during the course will help you to better see your school by sharing their perspectives, as well as help you to develop better strategies by sharing their experiences and by working together with one another as you begin to develop your plans.



Be Willing To Share


To get the most value from the course, you will need to take the time, and perhaps be willing to take the risk, to explain the reality of your school's situation. While we can never be entirely objective, we can chose to share our sense of reality with others. In your school, that may not always be a wise thing to do. In this course, it would be much more valuable to you and your fellow students if you attempt to carefully explain what has happened in the past, what you face today, and what you are thinking you might do next. The more you give, the more you will get back!





Some of the things you share may be particularly confidential. My second request is thus that you agree to keep what you learn about one another's schools confidential, unless it is clearly public information. Trust among one another comes in its own good time, but I do ask you to begin by affirming your agreement to do not harm to one another, and to keep confidential information that is revealed in private.



Be Supportive Of One Another


Each of you faces a very different situation. Some of us may read or hear of situations that we find uncomfortable. While honestly speaking our minds, let's also try to do or say nothing that would harm the professional friendships that will hopefully develop. Let's all agree to be as respectfully and supportive of one another as we can.


Remember How Difficult It Can Be To Converse By Email


People misunderstand one another often enough in everyday face-to-face conversation. When talking by email, we have no other cues to help us confirm what the other person is saying: body language or voice intonation being two of the most common. When you write, try to communicate as clearly as possible.



Remember The Lag Time That Will Occur In Online Discussions


Because those of you participating may live in different time zones, even in different countries, and because we are all professionals who juggle many commitments, the course is not designed to be run in real time (where everyone is online at once). At times you may go a day or more between times when you can sign on to contribute to discussions. Don't be surprised if some of you get involved in a discussion and find others chiming in a day or two later. The discussions will be threaded, which means that you can follow the flow of posting from beginning to the present time.



Ensure Now That You Will Have Access To A Working Computer And Good Internet Access


Nothing could be more frustrating, having gone through all this to get into the course, only to discover that your computer goes down, and will be in the shop for three weeks. It would also be terribly frustrating to discover that you cannot view the course files.  This is especially true if you are not able to view the recorded videos and hear the recorded audio talks that I am preparing.



Computer requirements:


·         a PC running Windows 2000 or above or a Macintosh running OS 10.39 or higher. 


·         Additional Macintosh Minimum Requirements

* 400 MHz G3 processor or faster

* At least 128 MB of RAM


·         Having an up-to-date operating system is critical. If you are not sure what you have installed on your computer, take the time now to find a 'techie' who can help.


·         Your computer will also need to have audio and video playback capacity (if your computer can play CDs and DVDs, you're set.)


Internet Access:


Obviously you will need Internet Access throughout the course.   Your life will be much easier, and downloads much shorter, if you have high speed Internet Access: Cable Modem, DSL or Satellite.







Before we start, you may need to download and install few free programs.


·         Many of the text files either open as web pages or as pdf files.  To open pdf files you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download here.

·         Some of the video files are in flash format.  You can download the player here.  (Yes, it is the same site as the above, easy isn’t it.

·         It is also useful to have the latest version of QuickTime Player:

 Download QuickTime Player for Macintosh


Download QuickTime Player for Windows



NOTE:  All the programs listed above are available as free downloads.  You do not need to purchase anything.  The Adobe Acrobat Reader program (now just called Adobe Reader) is used to open and read Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF) files. These are files containing print, images, and sometimes audio or video files, which are formatted just as they appeared in the software with which they were originally created. With Acrobat Reader, users can view these files without needing to own the original programs. Acrobat Reader is a free download from Adobe's web site, and allows the viewing and printing of PDF files. Acrobat Professional is a version of the software that allows people to create, not just read, PDF files.



If Your Computer Dies Or You Go On Vacation


If your computer dies, you will want to have a backup plan. Perhaps someone else in your office or family has a computer that you can use for an hour or so a day. Perhaps you can arrange to use your home computer if you plan to work from school, and your computer dies. Also, in many places public libraries or Internet Cafes offer computers that you can use.


If you request assistance or advice with computer related issues, please tell us what computer internet connection and OS you are using - it will make it easier for us to help you.


Time Commitment


You should expect to spend at least ten hours a week, normally about an hour-and-a-half a day, participating in online discussions, reading, listening to recorded presentations, and working on assignments.


You will be able to set your own times to work, watching the recorded videos, listening to audio files, reading course materials, working on assignments and small group projects, and participating in forum discussions.




To be part of this course, we all have to expect one another to participate actively.  By this, I mean that I am asking you to post discussion comments and assignments in the course onsite workplace at  If you were to simply read the course materials and follow the online discussions without posting your own contributions, you would not have truly participated in the class.


Basically the purpose of this course is for you to gather new insights and skills that will directly help you and your school. Motivation is not much of a problem at our level. However, we all tend to become swept away by the daily routine of urgent matters, parents demanding our attention, family vacations, worries about next year's enrolment, teachers who resign and must be replaced unexpected…. All of the things, large and small, that can effectively lead any of us to stop participating. I've been there, and know exactly what can happen and how easy it is to become overwhelmed.


I also know that this course can be invaluable to you in the long-run, but only if you stick it out and invest the time!


If things begin to pile up, they will still be there. The course could consume your entire week, but really an hour or two a day should get you through, leaving plenty of time to handle everything else.


But if things really begin to heat up, I have one simple request: stop and communicate with me and your colleagues in the course about what is happening before allowing yourself to become literally overwhelmed to the degree that you disappear on us.


I have seen groups like ours help school leaders through some exceedingly difficult times.


The other side of the coin is that everyone's contribution, experience and insight is important. If you were to fade out of the picture, it would not just be that you would not get as much as you hoped to receive. It would be everyone else who would have gotten that much less.


You will be learning in collaboration with one another, and your classmates can only "see" you through your comments in the online Discussion Forum.



If You Plan To Be Away On Business Or On Vacation And Will Be Out Of Touch


If, for any reason, you anticipate an upcoming absence during the course, please let us know.   The success of the group depends on each of your personal commitments to making collaboration work!





The primary method for communicating with me will be making postings within the course. Occasionally, when either of us has an urgent issue that needs to be discussed or, during the opening weeks of class, using regular email will be appropriate. I will normally respond fairly quickly to your questions, depending on my workload or daily schedule. Normally I will respond within the day. Sharon, my instructional assistant, will handle routine matters. Please be patient with delays due time differences.


Class materials


As part of the course, you will receive an e-book version of the text for this course. But as you go through the course, you will find that I have broken the book into sub-elements to make it all more digestible. It is not necessary to download and print the entire text.


You will also find a wealth of resource files, which will include:

·         sections drawn right from the book so you know exactly what to read in order - and in some cases more recent updates on the book.

·         Adobe Acrobat files with sample ads, brochures, fliers, and the like

·         MP3 audio files that you can listen to with QuickTime or any audio file player software, even on your IPod.

·         video files which will include my lectures

·         links to websites that have interesting and relevant content

·         materials created by instructional guides and other participants as the course progresses.


Often materials are supplemented as the course progresses with materials contributed by participants, and additional materials posted by Tim and the other instructional guides.  Please remember that if you need any additional resources all you need to do is ask.  The aim of this course is to provide what you need, within your own context, to the best of our ability.  The other participants on the course form a strong peer/mentor group to support you in finding solutions to real challenges you may be facing.




As you know, Montessori does not believe in grades. On the other hand, completion of this course is designed to be both of value to you, and to confirm to others, such as your board or a future employer, that you have completed a course of study.


The course is graded on a pass/no pass basis. Students who withdraw or do not complete the assignments and demonstrate a reasonable level of understanding of the topic areas and skills covered are considered to have not completed the course. For the purpose of certification in Montessori Leadership, it would be as if you had never taken the course.



Technical support


For Internet connectivity questions, you should check first with your local Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Sharon Caldwell (
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) will be happy to assist you with registration, navigating the course, assignments most technical matters and other course-related issues.  Keep in mind that as students, you are scattered around the globe, and Sharon is in South Africa.  There can be a time delay.  For urgent issues, query will get attention quicker if you contact us outside of the course by sending us an email using your normal external email software.  If your problem is of a nature that demands an immediate reply, you can call the Montessori Foundation during the business day.


Class announcements


We'll post regular announcements for the entire class inside the course and also make use of Constant Contact. Please watch for announcements as you first enter the course each time you log in. I may also email the group with general announcements.





I will provide you with feedback from time to time as you progress through the course, including feedback on your participation, specific assignments, and group work. Upon successful completion, you will receive a certificate showing that you have completed this course.





After the course begins, there will be no refunds for non-participation. You may, however, within one week of the course opening, substitute another person in your place, if you're unable to participate.



Post-Course Access


The course, including all class materials and previous discussions, will remain accessible to you and your classmates for a year after the end of class.



Post-Course Continuing Networking


The Montessori Foundation maintains several online discussion groups for school owners, administrators, board members, teachers, and parents. We will see that you have access to the existing interest specific discussion groups, as well as setting up an ongoing email discussion group for those of you who have completed this course.





Please reply to this email with an accepting statement, so I know you have read -- and agreed to the terms of -- this LSA. Feel free to ask any questions.


Thank you once again for joining me for this Montessori Leadership course online.




Tim Seldin

President, The Montessori Foundation

Chair, The International Montessori Council

PO Box 130

2400 Miguel Bay Drive

Terra Ceia Island, FL 34250-0130

941-729-9565 • 941-729-9594 (fax)

email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




12 week courses

*Revised and updated *

Building a World Class Montessori School

Overview of Montessori principles and curriculum

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Curriculum theory & Montessori applications



12 week courses

*Revised and updated *

Building a World Class Montessori School

Overview of Montessori principles and curriculum

(for non-Montessori trained heads of Montessori schools)



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