national conference


Unlock your potential, transform yourself and
inspire change

28, 29 October 2023

Gala Awards Dinner

Unlock your potential, transform yourself and inspire change

Are you ready to unlock your full potential and achieve personal and professional growth? Join us at the Transforming the Adult conference in Sydney on 28 & 29 October 2023. Our conference is designed to inspire and empower individuals through engaging conversations and activities led by experts from various fields.

Whether you are looking to develop new skills, enhance your career, or simply want to explore your potential, our conference offers something for everyone. With a diverse range of topics and speakers, you will have the opportunity to learn from some of the most innovative and experienced professionals in their fields.

Join us for two days of transformative experiences that will help you to unlock your potential and inspire positive change in your personal and professional life. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and learn from some of the best in the business. Register now and take the first step towards transforming yourself!

Event Speakers

Program Schedule

8:45am – 10:15am

Montessori envisioned a world where you and I would think for ourselves instead of being controlled and manipulated; where human beings would live in harmony with all other forms of life on this planet; where we would live lives of continual personal and social growth and learning. Montessori had a vision that you and I would emerge as truly free, authentic individuals.

10:45am – 12:00pm

Dr Montessori changed the world with her brilliant ideas about What Schools Could Be, and yet too few kids are learning in environments inspired by her wisdom to the extent needed to effect social reform and create peaceful societies. Why has the “spark” of the movement not yet turned into a “brush fire” and what can we learn from modern school reform movement that might inspire a new generation of Montessori educators and learners?

1:00pm – 2:00pm

concurrent workshops - select one

This presentation explores the teacher’s inner development journey as one of ‘becoming’ -–a movement towards attaining ‘freedom of thought.’ The presentation considers indications that Steiner gave to facilitate the potentially deeply creative act of teaching and learning in our educational settings – and which can be taken up in any educational setting. It looks at the value of this journey for its transformative potential in education. If teaching is an art, as Steiner posits, then the teacher is always, to some degree, an artist in the broadest sense, and the journey is as important as the destination.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Ethnomathematics can offer keys to being a more Prepared Adult and keys to becoming a mathematically and culturally responsive pedagogue. The potential for conflating both Western (conventional) and local Indigenous mathematical perspectives is stimulating for Montessori educators because mathematics is about Reconciliation. Reconciliation in this context means to investigate the humanising of the mathematics and not only looking at the customary and predominant mathematics curriculum. The child, school, community can be part of a process of “mutual interrogations” of the different mathematics available in the schools’ region. Contextualisation to culture means using local materials. Contextualisation of mathematics aims at bringing relevance into education for Indigenous students. For non-Indigenous Montessori students, ethnomathematics brings an element of respect, reverence, of history, of mathematical humility.

2:00pm – 3:00pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Echoes Montessori embraces all of the principles of quality Montessori practice in the early years, and builds on this by extending this empowering philosophy to adults in the later years of life. Echoes is embedded into the grounds of Encore apartments for independent retirement living, creating an intergenerational village in which children and their elders share their land and share their lives.

Barbara and Jessica will take the audience through an overview of the Echoes journey, from its starting point as a vision of children and their elders contributing to each other’s lives, to the realisation of that dream as our intergenerational village flourishes and thrives each day. They will highlight the benefits of intergenerational interaction for children, elders, educators, families and society, with the hopes of inspiring others to embrace this approach. The session will identify some of the key considerations for developing a prepared environment for intergenerational engagement. It will also introduce the Echoes Montessori principles of meaningful, sustainable and ethical intergenerational practice, and outline the importance of diversity and inclusion in the structure of an intergenerational program

Join us as we share our story so far, and invite you to consider embarking upon your own intergenerational adventure.


2:00pm – 3:00pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Explore the characteristics of an adolescent guide that makes them well-suited to work with this age group. Share some classic misconceptions about the relationship between adults and teens, what normal adolescent behaviours are and how to work with them efficiently and harmoniously. By transforming the adult through spiritual preparation, how do the characteristics of the prepared adult change. What are some of the strategies they use and how they are different from traditional ones. And finally, take away some practical tips and tricks to use in your classrooms, some recommended readings, connect with other adolescent educators around the globe and learn from shared experiences.

3:30pm – 4:30pm

This panel discussion will look at and discuss the finalist selection of videos submitted for this national competition. After the discussion the audience and panelists will all vote on the top three elevator speeches which will be awarded valuable prizes. Come be part of the fun and get some ideas for what to say when you find yourself in a conversation with a neighbour, co-worker or stranger in an elevator who asks, “So what is Montessori anyway?”

4:30pm – 5:15pm

Laughter is truly universal: it knows no language, age, cultural, economic, educational or gender barriers. It helps us connect with our inner child and our inner joy. Promoting peace through joy, laughter naturally relieves tensions and dissolves loneliness. This session will help educators with strategies to manage stress better, improve classroom management and learning outcomes, better tackle the ever-increasing expectations of parents and improve team-connectivity. Laugh to connect contributes to increased mental wealth and improved morale for both educators and the children in their care.

Living Legend Gala Awards Dinner

SATURDAY 7:15pm – 10:00pm

The Gala includes a sumptuous 3 course dinner and beverages, the award ceremony and live entertainment from the incredible HOT POTATO BAND.

Dress: Cocktail attire


An introduction to the Positive Discipline for Montessori Educators course on classroom management tools to support student mental health and foster respect, kindness and responsibility.

8:30am – 10:00am

Maria Montessori said that “new” teachers must do more than learn new skills; we must transform ourselves. We must step back to truly observe ourselves and others. In this way we develop a “cosmic” view that is at once scientific and spiritual.

10:30am – 11:30am

Dating back to at least the work of Martha Simpson at Blackfriars Practising School in 1915, Montessori education has a long history in Australia. Despite this lengthy history, Montessori school-based education has struggled to build scale in the Australian context. Despite 29 per cent growth since 2008, Montessori schools still only make up 0.5 per cent of all schools, and 0.1 per cent of all students. Put simply, Montessori schools exist on the margins. This keynote builds on the 2022 report Montessori education in Australian schools: Charting a path to highlight some of the major challenges for Montessori education including what exactly is Montessori education, building the collective, and evidencing quality education. Rather than a doom and gloom overview, this presentation will offer potential quick wins, short- and longer-term ideas as stimulus for dialogue and debate on what is needed to better to tell the story of what Montessori based schooling has to offer education in Australia.

11:30am – 12:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Compassion for others is a dance with compassion for ourselves. How we meet and serve others is inextricably connected to how we meet and serve every part of ourselves. The inner work of ‘being’ is transformative in our ‘doing’ in the world. With a focus on personal-professional transformation this interactive workshop includes various reflective practices and a focus on ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie.

11:30am – 12:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

How do you measure and capture this development and growth for the children with who you work? What are the challenges and the celebrations? This workshop will begin with a look at what is considered as best practice for assessment in education. Within this framework, it is hoped that we can explore, through an interactive method, the opportunities and challenges for Montessori practice whilst reflecting on the key questions, “What do I do?” and “Why do I do it?” The aim will also be for participants to share practice on what works and how we know it works and consider the scope for this to affirm the identity of Montessori within Australia.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

Present moment self-awareness is key in recognising when we are not operating from our core self. In this workshop, we will be exploring ways to develop more in the moment self-awareness, how we know we are in some kind of reactive pattern, and how we can transform these kinds of patterns.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

A wave of active citizenry is emerging in Australian society and showing its capacity to lift the bar on integrity, inclusivity, and fairness in our communities, and of their leadership. How do we authentically give our children and young people the opportunity to actively participate in the organisation of their most significant community, and learn the skills of active citizenry? Structure and processes can scaffold decision making, group discussion, and vision sharing, around matters that effect their school lives but as with the authentic application of any school philosophy, it is the adults in the room that are the key. Adults in democratic school environments must be very conscious of the power that they inherently hold in a school environment and be willing to share it (or at least be transparent about when they can’t) on a daily basis. It takes self-awareness, humility, and trust in the goodness and capacity of children to hold a space for shared power and responsibility in the classroom. It takes courage to let children see the decision you are advocating for lose in a class vote. It takes vulnerability to share with them your disappointment about this while letting them know that you respect the process.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

What Can Montessori, Steiner and Democratic Schools Learn from One Another About Transforming Educators to Work Effectively with Young People?

William Maier, Shelley Davidow, Fiona McKenzie, Mark Powell, Alex Ioannou

2:30pm – 3:30pm

concurrent workshops - select one

A story of transformation from a Montessori alumni. Listen to this former student of Sydney Montessori School speak about how her years in Montessori have benefitted her and set her apart in many ways from her peers who went through traditional education.

Maree-Rose Brakatselos

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Public School Symposium

The conference includes a concurrent Public School Symposium for leaders and educators of Montessori programmes within public and faith-based school systems. Delegates can attend the conference, and select the Public School Symposium stream workshops.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

The current political and policy context of education in Australia is troubling, given the increasing metrification, standardisation and narrowing of what counts (i.e., what can be counted) as quality teaching and learning. While public debates have focused on teachers and test scores, there have been widening social, economic and educational gaps between young people from different backgrounds. In this presentation, Stewart will consider the possibilities and pragmatisms of a public Montessori as one response to the growing residualisation of public schooling in Australia and increasing educational inequality. In doing so, he poses some provocations and propositions for a public Montessori that works for ‘the public’ in terms of young people’s democratic participation, civic engagement and developing capacities for critical and creative change in the world.

Stewart Riddle

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Experience a remarkable transformation! Former and current principals of Grovely State School share their journey of a small state school that transformed the delivery and measurable impact to students and community culture with introduction of a Montessori pathway alongside a mainstream pathway to become a school of choice.

Leanne Duncan & Jane Newman

11:30am – 12:30pm

Mitchelton State High School opened a public-school Montessori Adolescent Programme (MAP) in 2017. This was the only programme in Queensland. After 6 years and ‘spreading the word’ to the rest of the school via school magazine articles, displayed work, invitations to school events and a presence on assembly, most staff lack an understanding of the programme. There are many challenges for staff entering from mainstream public school and the transformation of the staff has anecdotally followed approximately the same path. Staff that have gone back to the main school, never by choice but circumstance, have remained in close contact with the programme and say that the programme is the educational way of the future. However a visit or observation is really not enough. This workshop looks at ways to build some alternative education experiences for preservice teachers in order to attract more understanding, interest and acceptance of MAPS.

Linda Rigby

1:30pm – 2:30pm

In this session, we will look at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector’s origin story, how it has grown over the past decade, and what it is looking towards in the future. Along the journey, participants will learn about the particular context of Public Montessori in the US, factors that are conducive to thriving public Montessori and others that are challenging. We’ll share the current state of public Montessori in the US and some of the tools and approaches that NCMPS has developed in response to the challenges and needs in the field.

Sara Suchman