Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gluing and Redirecting Behavior in the Montessori Classroom

Gluing Redirecting Behavior NAMC Montessori Classroom Working Towards Normalization teacher and girl
The one thing that frustrated me the most when I was in college was the feeling that this “theory” and “philosophy” is all well and good, but how do I apply it? How do I make it work?

I felt the same way when became a Montessori lead teacher in my first Montessori classroom. I understood the philosophy behind normalization and deviations, but how would I put it to practical use when the time came to approach a child who was misbehaving. What would I do? What would I say? I cannot stress enough the importance of observing veteran Montessori teachers. Even today, I am in awe of those gracious and courteous mentors. In their Montessori classrooms I could experience a place where every child was actively engaged and working and not a soul spoke above a hushed whisper. There was a sense of peace and harmony and I felt that I could dwell there forever. These are the Montessori teachers I sought out to be my mentors. These were my role models and I frequently found myself asking them for practical advice when it came to redirecting student behavior.

Redirecting student behavior in a Montessori classroom relates to how a Montessori teacher interacts with a child when she is misbehaving. Because of the importance placed on the well-prepared environment and well-prepared teachers, there should be relatively little misbehavior when the teacher is experienced and the children are normalized.

Gluing and Redirecting Behavior in the Montessori Classroom: Working Towards Normalization


Children often enter the Montessori environment ready to struggle or "fight". In the Discovery of the Child, Dr. Montessori states "…every defect of character is due to some wrong treatment sustained by the child during his early years". It is the duty of the Montessori teacher to remove any obstacles (including herself) which impede the development of the child. With careful observations, "earnest words", spontaneous work, commitment to the Montessori philosophy and principles, the Montessori teacher is able to successfully redirect and refocus student behavior.

Let us consider the following scenario. Miss Jen has observed that this week during circle time, Jonathan wanders around, interrupting presentations and disturbing others during work time. Today, he interrupted a Montessori lesson on the pink tower. Miss Jen knows that Dr. Montessori stated that "if he shows a tendency to misbehave, she will check him with earnest words…" and she quietly, but firmly uses her words to convey that he may not interrupt her presentations. "Excuse me, Jonathan, you may not interrupt our lesson. You may work with these materials later, when we are finished with them."

Later, after finishing her presentation, Miss Jen sees Jonathan disturbing another child who is trying to arrange flowers in the practical life area. Often times, a quiet, gentle reminder inviting a child to find appropriate work is all that is required. "Jonathan, I noticed you were working on sharpening pencils earlier. Would you like to show me that work? By redirecting him to find work, the teacher is refocusing him on his true purpose. Dr. Montessori said "Discipline is therefore attained indirectly, that is, by developing activity in spontaneous work." (Discovery of the Child) As children concentrate on their work, their need to misbehave decreases as they move toward normalization.

With some children, especially those new to the Montessori classroom and are still in the first stage of normalization, a simple request to find appropriate work may not be enough. In this case, the Montessori teacher employs another strategy called gluing, whereby the teacher keeps a child close to her before inviting the child to find an appropriate work. If, after having shown Miss Jen how to sharpen pencils, Jonathan is still wandering aimlessly around the Montessori classroom, she may quietly ask him to join her for a brief while. "Jonathan, I noticed you are having difficulty settling down this morning. Please come join Samantha and me while I give this lesson. Afterward, you and I will find some work for you to do." Notice that Miss Jen has told Jonathan that she will decide when it's time for Jonathan to leave her side.

Gluing Redirecting Behavior NAMC Montessori Classroom Working Towards Normalization teacher girl
Gluing is not punitive. It gives the child time to refocus and observe others working in the Montessori classroom. It is a way to re-center and calm themselves so that they may work effectively in the classroom.
Learning to redirect behavior takes time and practice; it does not happen overnight. Dr. Montessori observed that "The teacher…has many difficult functions…She must acquire a precise knowledge of the techniques…for dealing with the child." (Discovery of the Child) There may be a period of trial and error as you practice different techniques for guiding appropriate behavior. Remember, the children need emotional care as well as physical care. The teacher who is patient yet firm and slow to anger will inspire goodness and confidence in the children.

…defects in character, disappear of themselves…One does not need to threaten or cajole, but only to 'normalizing the conditions' under which the child lives." (Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child)

Read more on this series:

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Sunday, April 27, 2008.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly how I felt after today. I am so glad I found this article. I have read before Montessori's lecture on what to do with a disruptive child but your explanation and examples have helped me understand on a more practical level, actually how to redirect! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Have questions or comments? Let us know what you thought
about this article!

We appreciate feedback and love to discuss with our readers further.

Find What Interests You Easily!

Are you interested in reading back through NAMC's blog articles from years gone by? Are you looking for more information on a specific topic?

Use the menu below to select the year and then the month to narrow down the time frame the articles you are interested in were posted. You can also browse our entire list of categories below; by clicking on one, you will see every article posted under that topic since 2007.

Still having trouble finding what you're looking for? Try our search box (located in the side bar of every page) to search all posts on our site for your keyword. If you require further information, or have comments or concerns, feel free to contact us.

NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog Archive

Post Category Labels

We'd love to hear from you!

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.

NAMC is always looking for feedback and dialogue with our students and other Montessorians. We invite you to contact us if you may have any questions or comments in regards to our blog or articles we have posted here at our Montessori Teacher Training page.

Please note:If you want to learn more about NAMC, are interested in our programs, or are a student, please contact us through the main NAMC site to ensure a timely response from one of our advisors, tutors, or education specialists.

Fill out my online form.