place.” ~Catherine McTamaney, The Tao of Montessori
So often as teachers we find ourselves wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the daily routines. There is work to be prepared, lessons to be taught, and observations to be made. I often find myself concerned about the lessons that I had planned to teach that day and didn’t get to. I start to question my ability to successfully complete the planned curriculum for the school year. What I fail to remember is that one of my responsibilities as a Montessori teacher is to be a saint.
Practicing saintliness is challenging for me. To be saintly one is required to be still. To be a saint you must refrain from modifying or changing. You must simply accept what is. As I sit at a table working with a child on her spelling words, a jolting crash echoes off the cinder block walls directly behind me. Bead bars scatter around the floor beneath my feet.
The child I am working with gasps. I close my eyes, refrain from turning around, and continue with the next word. Several students make their way over to the source of the mishap. I take in the sounds of children working together to rectify the situation. Within a few short minutes, the bead bars are back in their respective box, and the child is returning the wooden box to the shelf with two hands. The other children quietly make their way back to their workspaces. I
smile knowing that I just encountered one of many tiny miracles that would occur within the learning environment today. It wasn’t a lesson that I prepared, but a lesson that unfolded while engaging in life.
We are saintly when we do for each other. Grace and courtesy are lessons that frequent the Montessori
classroom. However these lessons are best taught through actions we ourselves perform on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s the children who model this attribute. Again, while working with a child on her spelling and vocabulary words, I soak in my surroundings. Rugs are sprawled out on the floor nearby with children tracing wooden puzzle pieces onto colorful textured paper. They carefully pin-push the shapes and strategically position them onto an outlined map of the
United Sates of America. One child struggles to“punch out” their shape and another offers to assist them. The paper rips and the shape is torn beyond recognition. You can read the frustration on the child’s face as she witnesses all of her efforts being recycled. A feeling of failure momentarily sweeps across the face of the child who was only trying to
help. With a skip in his step he quickly makes his way back to the puzzle, takes out the same shape that he had
just torn. He carefully re-traces it, “pin-pushes” it, and punches it out beautifully. He walks over to the other child and humbly offers it to her as an apology. She graciously accepts the shape and attaches it to her map as the other child observes. Sweet smiles reflect thank yous and the two resume their work. Another lesson carried out
My heart overflows with love and pride for these children as I witness the many miracles that occur throughout the work
morning. Catherine McTamaney’s words resonated with me today. “Bearing witness to the“normalized child” serves us well, encourages us to continue to do this work, and gives foundation to our accomplishment as
teachers…” (p.4). These are the moments that renew my passion for teaching and my love for God’s precious gifts
to our lives; the children.