Montessori Journey to Excellence
Why engage in MJ2Ex?

Being part of the MJ2Ex community offers you the opportunity share your ongoing professional inquiry, to gain feedback from kaiako in other Montessori settings and to share teaching resources. Research shows that by being part of an active community of professional learners guides us to deeper levels of reflection.

There are four important principles that underlie MJ2Ex

  1. MJ2Ex acknowledged the role of kaiako as ‘life-long’ learners and recognises that teachers are leaders of their own learning and growth through inquiry and reflection.
  2. MJ2Ex is built on an inquiry process with teachers being researcher in their own environment.
  3. MJ2Ex is built on the ‘critically engaged approach to Montessori’ supported by Dr Nicola Chisnall. This builds on the experimental approach of Dr Montessori and moves away from an interpretation that sees Montessori as a static model to be learnt by rote.
  4. MJ2Ex implementation is built on the creation of a professional learning community of teachers:
    • working together.
    • sharing their learning.
    • challenging each other.

What are the expectations for engaging in MJ2Ex?

The focus of MJ2Ex is on active participation and engagement. You are able to find, discuss and create resources to share as much as you want- there’s no limit to what MJ2Ex can offer or how you have to do it.

To gain the most from MJ2Ex each centre or school is expected to engage at least once per quarter online by joining into discussion, posting a progress update on your Teacher as Inquiry/Internal Evaluation, posting a resource to share, or asking a question.

Who can join MJ2Ex?

Any MANZ member centre or school is eligible to join the MJ2Ex learning community online.

How does our centre or school become part of the MJ2Ex?

To indicate your interest in becoming part of MJ2Ex  simply email the MJ2Ex facilitator: for an application form. Once completed and returned you will have instant access to the MJ2Ex community and can start your MJ2Ex journey.

MANZ will invoice your centre or school for the annual fee.

Navigate MJ2Ex

MJ2Ex is divided into four easy to navigate areas for you to gain the most from your experience. You can:

– Search for information and people.
– Find resources eg articles, inquires, materials – eg three part cards.
– Share your comments and rate resources.
– Search for other teachers, centres or schools who are engaged in MJ2Ex.

– Create a discussion topic to share ideas, inquiries or ask questions of your professional peers.
– Ask questions from your peers from other Montessori centres and kura around Aotearoa.
– Send a messages and ask for help directly from the MJ2Ex facilitator.

Create is where you can share resources eg articles, inquiries, materials, templates, videos.

View is all about you… you will find all the discussions and resources you have posted. These may be helpful evidence for appraisals and your practising teachers certification.

What are the costs of engaging in MJ2Ex?

The annual fee is scaled to full-time kaiako (teachers) working in the centre or kura and is structures to reduce cost barriers for small centres or kura:
<5 teachers    $200pa + GST.
5-10 teachers $400pa + GST.
>10 teachers  $600pa + GST.

Online and Implementation

The implementation model for MJ2Ex was presented at the MANZ 2015 Conference in April, 2015. This model included information on costs, benefits, accountability, support and recognition.

MJ2Ex Online went live at the beginning of July 2015  and there are now 18 MANZ member centres and schools forming an online community. Centres and kura can join at any stage to become part of the Montessori inquiry community.

What was MJ2Ex Pilot Programme?

Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand and Massey University worked together to run a 16 month pilot programme for the Montessori Journey to Excellence Te ara ki huhuatanga from March 2013- July 2014. Twelve Montessori early childhood centres and three Montessori primary schools were selected for the pilot. Their experience with the Montessori Journey to Excellence was shared with the wider Montessori and education communities at regional hui whakamahi and at the MANZ 2014 Conference.

The pilot programme took a blended learning approach with four face-to-face hui and online interactions. Two pilot teachers from each professional learning team (PLT) in each centre and kura were responsible for attending the hui, contributing online and facilitating the involvement of other staff in their PLT. These two pilot teachers interacted as ‘critical friends’ and supported each other through the process of making contextual meanings out of all their pilot learnings.

Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme Research Now Posted

The pilot programme research will inform the future direction of the Montessori Journey to Excellence and how more MANZ member centres and schools can participate, contribute and learn in a collaborative inquiry community. The research report and an executive summary can be downloaded from the right-hand column.

The research was reported on in the December 2014 of Montessori Voices and there were some ‘learning stories’ in the October 14 issue of Informed, the e-zine for teachers.

Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Bus Stop at the MANZ Conference, July 2014

Over 180 delegates at the MANZ Conference attended the bus stop, where pilot participants had 12 minutes to share some aspect of their learning to a table full of interested teachers. The bell rang .. and the presentation was shared with another group.

Feedback includes these comments

MJ2Ex is an amazing initiative that is obviously yielding positive results for those schools participating. I think those involved have shown extraordinary commitment to Montessori education by taking this on, on top of their teaching work load, and all of us stand to benefit from their learnings.

LOVED some of their ideas,identified with the common themes of their processes, eg recognising that staff come from different training programmes, different age/experience bases and how to bring them together before anything else can happen. I feel inspired to follow through with some of their ideas, eg documentation which allows for ease of planning. Lots to think about!

I am excited about the MJ2Ex and I think it would be great for MANZ to host some PD workshops specifically on MJ2Ex.

Please continue to grow MJ2Ex, it is a wonderful foundation document and with ongoing reflection and commitment will assist in the longevity of quality Montessori practice in Aotearoa.

Over 120 teachers attended regional Tuatahi Hui Whakamahi around New Zealand  October – December, 2013

Over 120 kaiako have attended the regional hui for the Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme in Dunedin, Queenstown, Wanaka, Nelson, Wellington, Feilding, Tauranga and Auckland. Many thanks to all the teachers who came interested to know what the pilot participants have been doing and what their learning has been to date

Dr Montessori urged teachers to see our pedagogy as an ‘on-going work of observation and research,’ (Chisnall, 2012). The Montessori Journey to Excellence aims to create, model and sustain a community of  reflective Montessori practitioners engaged in critical inquiry and to then start to ripple this learning out to the wider community.

More sharing was done at the MANZ Conference in New Plymouth in July 2014.

Watch this four minute video to get a ‘taste’ of the pilot initiative. We hope it inspires you to join the pilot participants at the MANZ Conference in New Plymouth to learn more … and to participate in the Montessori Journey.

Tuarua Hui for Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme; Teaching as Inquiry

You can share in some of the learning on the Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot on YouTube.  Pilot participants from Montessori early childhood centres and primary schools around New Zealand share their teaching as inquiry learning at the second hui in June 2013. This video is 10 minutes long.


Chisnall, N. (2012). Montessori education in Aotearoa-New Zealand: A framework for peace and social justice. (Doctoral thesis, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand). Retrieved from

Hui Tahi and Rua for Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme held March and June, 2013

The first hui or face-to-face meeting for the 2013-14 pilot programme was held on March 16-17  and  the second hui on June 8, 2013.

Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme

The first wānanga focused on building relationships between the centres and schools in each of the four regional learning clusters. Teachers from each centre or school also explored the concept of becoming a ‘critical friend’ and developed protocols for working together respectfully and honouring different understandings. Participants then worked in pairs to make a needs analysis of their centre or school using the Montessori Journey to Excellence essential elements and indicators.

Teaching as inquiry as a framework for review and a focus on data and evidence that can be gathered in the inquiry cycle was a large focus of pilot programme. Each centre and school has been developing a draft inquiry question and indicators for review or inquiry.  Participants presented their draft inquiries at the second wānanga and these include:

  • How effective are we in supporting children’s learning in an uninterrupted work cycle?
  • How effective are we in facilitating children’s independence through Practical Life and Sensorial activities?
  • What do our parents understand about Montessori philosophy and practice?
  • To what extent can I engage ‘Child W’ in open ended exploration of Montessori materials, activities and concepts?
  • How can I increase the writing of children who are below their level using techniques that fit within the Montessori
  • philosophy?
  • How effective are we in observing our children and taking opportunities to proactively give lessons in Grace and Courtesy?
  • How do we support concentration in our Montessori environment?
  • How is our philosophy statement visible in our team’s shared day-to-day practice?
  • To what extent does our practice reflect Montessori philosophy in positively guiding behaviours and attitudes?
  • How effectively do we support children in developing independence?
  • To what extent do parent understandings, Montessori philosophy and our school vision align?
  • How well do we create a sound foundation of a consistent way of being amongst all staff in our centre?
  • To what extent is the vision for our Montessori centre a shared one?
  • To what extent does involving the children in developing a class vision impact on their engagement and approach to learning?’
  • How well does our outdoor environment reflect our shared Montessori philosophy?
  • Does increasing group activity in the classroom increase the expression of the children’s interests?

The pilot programme takes a blended learning approach with face-to-face meetings and online interaction for on-going reflection, sharing of resources and feedback from network learning clusters, the whole pilot group and from the facilitators from the Centre of Educational Development, Massey University.

The online space is provided by Educa and engagement online is part of the pilot research.

Pilot participants are experiencing being part of a professional learning community where they are supported and challenged to articulate their aspirations for children, to identify when the desired outcomes are being delivered and most importantly to relate this to Montessori philosophy

Twelve MANZ member centres and three schools are part of the 2013-14 pilot programme.


Birkenhead Point Montessori
Titoki Montessori School
Koru Montessori
Montessori @ Howick Primary


Little Sweethearts Montessori


Shaken Oak Montessori


Wairarapa Montessori Centre


Capital Montessori School
Montessori @ Otari Preschool
Montessori Primary @ Otari School
Wa Ora Montessori School


Nelson Montessori Preschool


Montessori @ the Gardens


Queenstown Montessori


Montessori Children’s House