Wednesday, September 7, 2016

TMM Spotlight: Matt Bronsil

Matt Bronsil with a student exploring the Touch Fabrics, used for the development and refinement of the tactile sense


Q
: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?

My name is Matt Bronsil. I grew up with two Montessori teachers as parents. They are fantastic, but I was always certain I wanted to be anything BUT a teacher. (Sounds like Maria, doesn’t it?)


I originally went to school for Theology and was going to be a United Methodist Minister. Then I went to work on cars. Finally, I ended up in computers. After 9/11, companies stopped buying computers for a while, and I was out of a job. I managed to get a job interview at a Montessori school. I saw the ad in the paper and called, but they informed me they had already finished with the interviews and decided on someone. I was still welcome to send in my resume. I said I would and she asked me my name.
“Matt Bronsil,” I replied.
“Did you say Bronsil?” she asked.
“Yes.”
“As in Beth Bronsil?” (My mom)
“Yes.”
“She was one of my teacher trainers. What time can you come in?”

So I got that interview because of my name, but I stayed in the job mainly for something that happened. I was interviewing for the Toddler class. A group of boys were in the inside play area. One of them (a 2 1/2 year old) asked if I wanted to play. There I was in a suit and tie, sitting in a chair at a table, while a group of children sat with me and pretended to cook me dinner. It all felt natural to me. “This is where I should be,” I thought. And I never looked back.

Q: What was your first experience with Montessori?



Before I could even remember. My parents brought me into the Montessori classroom when I was an infant. My brother and I, as babies, were part of the practical life area and the children helped take care of us.

Baby Matt in his mother's classroom in the year 1976-77
I have a few memories from that classroom, but they do not really scream “Montessori.” There were two old ladies who often came to our school from the retirement village to read to us and I remember them.
One of my earliest vivid memories was after my mom moved jobs to Xavier University’s Montessori program. My brother and I were waiting for my mom to finish work and he handed me a unit bead. He said, “This is one.” Then he handed me the 1000 cube, dropping it into my hand. “This is A THOUSAND.” I probably spent the next 20 minutes staring at that cube, mesmerised by how many beads there were.

Child working with the Golden Beads activity exploring place values and quantity in a concrete way
Q: Can you share with us a Montessori moment that continues
to inspire your practice


The one above continues more than anything. I loved how amazing that material was. I love inspiring that in other students.

I am also big on how to treat and respect children. I am amazed at how well calm, conscious discipline works with children. Every time I see an angry child know how to deal with their anger based off something I told him or her, it makes me happy.


Q: What’s your favourite Montessori quote? And why?



“Never do for a child that which he feels he can do on his own.”

I’m not sure if that is the exact wording of the quote, but it is something I tell parents all the time. I think we should look at our environment and continue to ask ourselves, “Is what I am doing, something the children can do instead?”


Q: Is there a Montessori material you love particularly and why?

I don’t have a favorite area or material. Except for freaking MATH. I love the math area mostly because I grew up with Montessori. I saw the huge difference between myself and other students when I left Montessori, in regards to how I understood math. Notice I did not say how much math I learned, but how I could visualise and understand the ideas. The whole thing was mind-blowing!
Matt's classroom in Taiwan.


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