Why should students in Grades 1-5 walk independently to their classrooms during arrival time?

There are 310 students at Tobin Montessori and the safety of these students is our top priority. During arrival and dismissal times we must do our best as a staff to monitor who is entering the building and when they are leaving. Allowing all parents/guardians access to the entire building during arrival times is a major safety issue. Prior to this rule, parents were lingering in hallways, utilizing student bathrooms and the staff expressed concerns about this. We have a policy that if you see an adult without a CPS ID or a Tobin Visitor badge, you need to ask them who they are, why they are in the building and escort them to the office for a visitor badge. If you are approached by a staff member, please do not take offense and understand it is an effort to keep all of your students safe.

The majority of our students take the bus and arrive between 7:15 & 7:30AM. This means that by 7:40AM (when classrooms open) most of the students are in their classrooms getting settled in. Sometimes students have a rough start to the day or they are experiencing issues with a friend. At times Tobin Staff are in the hallway during this time working to manage these types of challenges or conflicts. When parents/guardians are present in the hallway, it becomes an issue of confidentiality for the students. It is unfair for students to have parents of their peers observing them if they are experiencing a social/emotional challenge.

Since the majority of our students take the bus, not many students have the luxury of having a parent drop them off or walk them to their classroom. Staff members observed that having parents in the hallways, hugging and kissing their children outside the classroom, made many students, who were at their cubbies or just outside the classroom, feel sad. Also, the classes that had an 8AM special, reported that when they would leave the classroom, passing lingering parents caused mixed emotions in students. This also occurred in the lunchroom when we used to have parent volunteers. It is very challenging to make sure we are providing an environment that promotes equity and this noticing---although it may seem small to some----played a big part in making this decision.

Teacher Work Time & Parent Communication
The teacher work day begins and 7:40AM and that is when they are officially responsible for the 24 children in their classroom. It is very challenging for teachers to start their work day if parents are pulling them into the hallway to ask questions or to give them information about their child. Staff have reported that these interactions feel unsettling and oftentimes the information that the parent might share, should be sent in writing the night before (typically dismissal changes or lost items). They also shared that it takes them away from the students, resulting in a delayed start to their day.

One of the tenets of Montessori is independence. Our expectation is that once students are in the school building, they are independent. We want them to independently walk to class, take care of their belongings and interact with their teacher on their own. The goal is for them to gain a sense of agency within the environment. Students are allowed to start taking the school bus on their 4th birthday and many students, beginning at age 4 independently manage their arrival into the building. We want all students, regardless if they take the bus or get dropped off, to be able to take ownership of their arrival time. We now even encourage parents of our JK & K students to be dropped off in the lobby. Ideally by the Spring, even three year olds should be able to walk up the ramp to their classrooms.
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