Montessori teachers are models of peacemaking and compromises. We teach our children to choose their words carefully, keeping in mind the feelings of others. We actively promote and encourage peace in our Montessori classrooms by having a peace corner or peace rose as a symbol of working together to work out problems. We make sure our language is positive and inclusive of all children. We encourage active listening by utilizing the “one voice at a time” rule and incorporating a talking stick/stone during class meetings or peace negotiations. As such, it is important to not only model this with our students but with parents, fellow faculty and staff members.
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week at my school. It came at an awkward time as there were a few parents who were upset about the proposed calendar for next year. Some parents and teachers had hurt feelings, and there was even talk among faculty about boycotting the Teacher Appreciation luncheon. All in all, the peaceful feeling of a Montessori community was suspended.
It was a difficult time.
It is so crucial to have a community where open communication is not just talked about, but truly plays an important role. When there is not open communication, the children are the ones who suffer the most.
They were confused because they love their Montessori school and they overheard grumblings from the people they love and respect the most; their parents and their teachers. More importantly, the children saw the adults modeling communication with each other in ways that are not accepted in their Montessori classroom and homes. If only the adults had remembered who was watching and learning from them, maybe they would have employed better techniques.
Modeling Peace Between Parents and Teachers in the Montessori Classroom
The week went more smoothly than anticipated, and the parents who organized the week are to be commended for their outstanding efforts. Each day they had something different planned to show teachers how much the parent population appreciates them.
- Monday – continental breakfast in each of the three hallways
- Tuesday – wish list materials presented at lunch by a student from each Montessori class
- Wednesday – dinner for two from a local caterer
- Thursday – chair massages and facials provided all day
- Friday – catered luncheon off campus with many door prizes
Come to think about it, maybe it was the right week to show teacher appreciation after all. It reconfirmed that the majority of the parents stand behind our Montessori school and really appreciate everything it has to offer. So often, teachers only hear from parents when there is something troubling them. It felt good to be acknowledged. I’m proud to say that the luncheon was well attended by both faculty and board members alike. I’m also proud to say that there is better communication between parents and faculty now. There was a board meeting last week where many parents and teachers were in attendance. Both sides had a chance to respectfully voice their concerns. In the end, there was a vote and both sides felt that it had been a win-win situation.
We didn’t become Montessori teachers for the praise and glory, or for gifts that are bestowed by appreciative parents.We became Montessori teachers because we believe that children are our future and because we value, care, and respect each child as a unique person. As my assistant has said in the past, “the children themselves are gift enough”.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, February 29, 2008.