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Inner Sydney Montessori School

Demystify the Montessori teaching method

One of the things we really look forward to as a team is a chance to view a subject from a fresh perspective. In this project, we worked again with the folks at Mahlab to create a concept for the Inner Sydney Montessori School (ISMS) that supported their objective to position themselves as the leading Montessori school in Australia. To reach that goal, Mahlab were presenting a multi-platform content approach with a strong emphasis on video. We were immediately intrigued.

To put it bluntly, most education video content is dull and derivative, usually the product of committee like decisions made in isolation of the intended audience. For us, ISMS needed more than video, they needed to present their brand as assured, expert and deeply connected to their subject matter. They needed to set themselves apart.

Mark, Kati and the team at Commoner delivered on our high expectations, creating a series of films that have evoked wonder for our audiences, and we couldn't be happier. We had the utmost confidence in the team from the moment of reading the exceptionally insightful creative brief. - Amanda Reynolds, Community Relations ISMS

The audience, in this case, was prospective parents and teachers with the primary goal to raise awareness of the benefits of ISMS schooling in order to drive student recruitment and speak about the teacher training opportunities and benefits of being a Montessori educator. 

According to recent research, content that challenges traditional education methods generates significant engagement and interest. More than ever before, parents are curious about education pathways and wanting to learn and engage with content from schools that feeds that curiosity.

Our aim for the project was to build a series directly speaking to this audience demand, helping to explain the ISMS difference, how their teaching methods enable students to thrive, address common parent concerns, and show a dynamic and rewarding workplace. 

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Central to our approach was a desire to capture the perspective of an ISMS child. For us, that first meant understanding the context and we revelled in gaining a deep understanding of Montessori through days of research and conversation with ISMS staff, parents and students. The result was a 'chapter' approach to the series, each chapter building upon the themes of the last. 

We worked with Montessori teachers and parents to identify key teaching themes then map those to visually identifiable experiences that we could capture within the classroom. Then, over a four day period, we immersed ourselves (a compact documentary team of three) in the ISMS Balmain campus and followed four students ranging from 2 years to 12 to capture their day.  

The final output was seven films accompanied by shorter social cuts to tie in with the Mahlab's planned advertising campaign.

We think the resulting films are intimate, thought-provoking and help highlight the day-to-day activities that form the building blocks of the ISMS as well as the wider Montessori learning experience. More than just fly on the wall documentary, they help communicate the experience of Montessori learning with a visual style that few institutions can match, hence is unique to ISMS.

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