There are the first graders, wide-eyed and full of wonder as they carefully enter not only a new Montessori classroom, but a whole new stage of development. Their small backs over-shadowed by the full-size backpacks they wear, determination on their face as they struggle to reach their cubbies. There were tearful goodbyes as mommies walked away. A few nervously whispered “Miss Michelle, I can’t read” and I calmly whispered back “It’s ok, we’ll learn together.” There was confusion when they found out that we had to go to school all day without naptime. And they all sat very close to me at circle time that first day, needing my physical presence as assurance that I would care for them and not let them get lost.
Things to Love About the First Day of School in a Montessori Classroom
There are the second graders, ready to take on the world. They entered the Montessori classroom Monday morning with their mouths wide-open, showing us how many teeth they lost over the summer. They reach out to the first graders, helping them find materials, pencils, and the bathroom. Some of my second grade girls took my non-readers aside during silent reading and, with the first phonics readers, helped them sound out short vowel "a" words. They are eager to get to work. They have newly sharpened pencils and new composition books that they look forward to filling up with wonderful works. There are a lot of them – 14! They are my anchor.
There are the third graders, the oldest in the bunch. This is old hat and some have the “been there, done that attitude” already. My girls are voracious readers and hurry to get their work done so they can read. My boys are wanderers, joining up to walk and talk their way around the room. Even so, they are eager to please. The girls beam and the boys shyly bow their heads and smile when they are recognized. One of them is already a leader, volunteering to help whenever I need anything done in the Montessori classroom. To his friends, he’s cool, but to me, he’s my right hand man.
I stood there this week, ready to call a group to a botany lesson and looked around to see thirty children busily at work. Not one of them needed me. At that moment, I didn’t exist. The knowledge I was prepared to share with them was not necessary. It was wonderful. A true Montessori moment if there ever was one. The children were working and all I could do was stop, observe, and enjoy the beauty of it. After all, Dr. Montessori said it best, “The greatest sign of success for a Montessori teacher . . . is to be able to say “The children are now working as if I did not exist.””
May we all have a wonderful year and may we all fall in love many times over.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, August 22, 2007.