We are really looking forward to sharing the expertise of this year’s P2P Summit speakers with you!
I was going to start this email by saying that Tammy and I thought long and hard about whether to make this year’s Summit free. But that’s not true. This decision speaks to one of our core values and it wasn’t a difficult decision for us at all.
We’ve lived through one of the most unusual years we are likely to experience in our lifetimes. We have been so heartened to see the level of innovation and the plethora of resources the Montessori community has created in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The outpouring of support continues to remind us that this is the best global community we could hope to be a part of.
All the free stuff has been great, but…
…one of the responsibilities we take very seriously as members of this Montessori community is to honor and respect the labor, the experience, and the expertise of our professionals.
The truth of the matter is, no matter how much buzz there is about Montessori, our profession still does not get the respect it deserves.
Montessori teachers and speakers are some of the lowest paid knowledge workers out there and we need to be actively taking steps to elevate their status.
This is a broader societal issue that impacts all educators and most female dominated professions. While we can’t wave a magic wand and fix this, we can do something about it in our small sphere of influence.
This begins with changing the conversation about whether Montessori professionals should be compensated for their work. Umm… seems like a no-brainer answer here…. YES! Of course they should be compensated for their work!
If you’re not a regular conference presenter, you may not realize that speakers generally do not get paid for presenting. In the business world, free speaking engagements make sense if the speaker uses them for lead generation for their business. This works well if the speaker has the business savvy to make use of the opportunity… but as we know, most Montessorians shy away from marketing.
Speaking at conferences for free is a privilege for people who have the spare time and resources to participate. Even in a pandemic when we are all eager to give freely, it’s important to remember that our thanks and appreciation are not enough to pay the grocery bills. This leads to the unintentional silencing of voices who simply cannot afford to donate their time. (You may want to reflect for a moment on who tends to be most impacted by this setup.)
As conference organizers, Tammy and I consider it our duty to put speaker compensation as the very first line item in our budget. If the conference does not bring in enough money to pay the minimum we have committed to the speakers, we will pay them out of our pockets. It is that important.
We truly value the hard work of all conference organizers and speakers who donate their time and expertise to bring Montessori to more people and we understand that paying speakers is also a privilege.
Tammy and I have the privilege of creating a win-win scenario here. We are able to minimize our overhead and reach a large enough community of people like you to keep the ticket price low enough for the event to be of tremendous value to you and compensate our speakers.
So, it wasn’t a difficult decision for us at all.
We know you will love the presentations the speakers have prepared! You will recognize many names and faces and will likely be introduced to some amazing experts you have never heard before.
Thank you for being part of this with us, and helping us thank our speakers with more than words!
-Seemi (and Tammy)
Edited to add:
Why don’t we use conference sponsors to pay for the speakers and make the content free? This is a great question, and using this model can definitely be appropriate at times. However, I (Seemi) believe that:
- I don’t need to amplify businesses that are already making plenty of money.
- Those businesses make money from you, the consumer. If I am going to facilitate spending money, I want it to go to small Montessori creators and experts who devote their life energy to this work and need to make a living.
- The proliferation of free content drastically undervalues the decades of work our Montessori professionals have put into developing their expertise, while at the same time overwhelming the public.
- Undervaluing expertise is an insidious form of anti-intellectualism, and in the education space, it is also a form of misogyny.
Seemi holds a Master's degree in education, and an AMS Early Childhood credential. She has twenty years of experience in Montessori as a teacher, school administrator, and school owner. Seemi is the founder of TrilliumMontessori.org.