Best Practices

Khalsa Montessori School strives to integrate the Montessori ideals of respect and community throughout our program. Community values support the children’s success at school and in their lives. There are many resources and programs available to support learning environments that are in harmony with Montessori values. We have built a library of some of our favorite resources to assist with these goals.

Montessori Curriculum
The Montessori curriculum is a whole-child curriculum and includes the academic subjects as well as grace and courtesy, community building, peace curriculum, movement and the arts.

Arizona Academic Standards
As a public charter school, Khalsa School teaches the Arizona Academic Standards in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The academic standards include all areas of the curriculum including language arts, math, science, social studies, the arts, physical education and health, and technology.

The Virtues Project 
The virtues are a list of 52 attributes that each individual has as an inner resource. Some of these attributes are easier to find within ourselves and others, but they are all available within each of us. The language of virtues is a way to acknowledge personal strengths and the strengths of others. It is a way to focus on the positive. The language of the virtues is integrated into the life of the classroom through journaling, games, spelling words, classroom-meeting discussions and used as a resource for problem solving, conflict resolution, and behavior issues.

How to Talk so Kids Can Learn
The How to Talk books provide basic strategies for communicating with children. These strategies are effective with adults, too. This is the language we use at Khalsa School. It is positive and encouraging. Listening well and empathetically is encouraged. Problem solving skills are taught. Feelings are expressed and acknowledged through active, reflective listening and “I-messages”. Response to behavior is free of praise or blame, punishment or rewards.

Creative Spririt 
Creative Spirit promotes fun, cooperative, non-competitive, community-building games for in-and-out-of-doors. The underlying philosophy is that the reason we play is to have FUN and the most important part of the game is the PEOPLE. Rule 1 is: when someone is hurt, the closest person stays with them until they are ready to return to the game. Rule 2 is: take problems outside the game, the game continues, you may return when you are ready.

The First Six Weeks of School
The first days and weeks of school each year are critical for setting the tone for the rest of the year. We use the first weeks of school to:

  • Create a climate of warmth and safety
  • Teach the schedule and routines of the school day and our expectations for behavior in each of them
  • Introduce students to the physical environment and materials in the classroom and school and teach how to use them and care for them
  • Introduce students to the people in the classroom and the school, their jobs, how they can help teach grace and courtesy expectations
  • Establish expectations about ways we will live and learn together as a community in the year ahead

The first six weeks of school is the time to convey the message that we will tackle challenging material and do high quality work in an atmosphere of mutual support and collaboration.

Non Violent Communication (NVC) 
Nonviolent Communication offers strategies for building relationships within the community. The focus is on self-acceptance and understanding before being able to accept and understand others. Some of the basic premises are:

  • Feelings are signals of needs met or unmet
  • Needs are universal and never in conflict, though strategies for getting needs met may be in conflict sometimes
  • Becoming aware of and acknowledging our feelings and needs and those of others builds compassion
  • Making requests rather than demands builds relationships

Nonviolent communications asks us to:


Replace with

Punishment and rewards Restorative (not retributive) justice, what do we want them to do differently, what do we want their reasons to be for doing it?
Praise Sincere gratitude
Blame “you made me angry” Self reflection on unmet inner needs
“Should” thinking Focus on needs, not what others think
Judgment and labels Honest observations, “just the facts”
Opinions stated as facts Opinions stated as opinions
Bureaucratic thinking, “I had to” Personal responsibility for choices made
Apologies Sincere remorse without self-blame related to personal unmet needs
Reactions to others Hearing only the feelings and needs regardless of how they are being expressed

Servant Leadership
Robert Greenleaf, former CEO of AT&T, coined this phrase in the 1970’s. The Greenleaf Center educates leaders in education, business and other institutions in community minded leadership. A leader serves and is served by the community. All community members can be servants and leaders. Leadership is not determined by role. Whoever wants to contribute, whoever has an idea can lead. Leaders serve by building community, committing to the growth of people, being aware, planning ahead, envisioning the future, sharing their vision. It is a sacred trust to be a caretaker, to protect the education and welfare of human beings, to lead.

The Arbinger Institute offers excellent resources for developing leadership skills and improving results and relationships at work and in your life away from work. Leadership and Self-Deception illustrates the way our own inner state impacts our performance and interactions with others. Being “in the box” limits our possibilities and getting “out of the box” opens the door to collaboration and new options. Getting “out of the box” involves seeing people as human beings like ourselves, being attentive to their feelings, needs, hopes and dreams. Anatomy of Peace introduces the language of “heart at war” and “heart at peace”. The same matters of the heart that result in global conflict result in the personal conflicts we engage in. By increasing awareness of our own perceptions and responses to others, we can choose a “heart at peace” and influence peace in our surroundings. The “change pyramid” encourages us to focus less on fixing what’s wrong and more on helping what is right. Helping what’s right includes teaching and communicating, listening and observing, building relationships, and self reflection.