|Experienced Montessori teachers understand the value|
of captivating children with an engaging story
Thoughts from other Montessori teachers on learning experience...
From Lisha —
Being an experienced Montessori teacher, I am able to recognize when a child is going through a sensitive period and how to facilitate that child’s need. This became especially valuable to me when I became a mother. For instance, when my daughter began climbing on books, boxes, and anything else that required her to step up, my experience guided me to help her rather than prevent her actions. I understood that my daughter was in a sensitive period for climbing and that she was working on an important part of her development. We were living in an apartment at the time and did not have any actual stairs for her to climb, so I had to think of other ways to help her through this period.
I made our own makeshift stair by placing a cushion at the base of an armchair. Well, my daughter went up and down, and up and down for the next three days! But just as fast as this phase came, it went. Soon enough, she was absorbed by something different...water!
From Collean —
There are many areas in which I have grown and improved due to my time and experience in the Montessori classroom, and I am happy to share that I am still in progress! As an experienced Montessori teacher, I am much better at observing effectively and interpreting what I see. This is definitely something that improves with practice! I have developed a system of planning and organizing that works well for me. On the flip side of that, I am also more relaxed and comfortable “rolling with the punches.” I now find it much easier to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities that arise throughout the school year or day. I have learned that patience and composure are achieved through conscious effort, and that I have the potential to influence the dynamic of my Montessori classroom and inspire my students with my own peaceful yet enthusiastic demeanor.
From Dale —
As is often the case with new teachers, my first teaching experiences were one-day substitution assignments. At the very top of every supply teacher’s concerns is classroom control — and either you learn how to manage a class very quickly or you do not. Many teachers who do not master the art of classroom control leave the profession early because they find it too stressful to manage a different group of children every day.
At university, I had the good fortune of being taught by Dr. Gary Pennington, a world-class professor. When I graduated, Dr. Pennington gave me some valuable professional advice. He told me to be somewhat mysterious to the children. Because of this advice, I became one of the most requested substitute teachers in numerous school districts and in two countries. I used this strategy to win the children over within my first minutes in the classroom. When I entered the class, I would not ask the children to be quiet or sit down. Instead, I would start telling them a story. I always chose a story about something personal and exciting that had occurred in my life, and it always had a moral. As the children started listening to my quietly spoken words, they naturally stopped talking and took their seats. At the end of my story, I introduced myself, told them how privileged I felt to be their teacher for the day, and gave them their first instructions. It only takes a minute to win children over, and once you have succeeded, teaching becomes the best job in the world!
Several years into the profession, I took my Montessori training and started guiding Montessori children. Of course, I loved teaching Montessori because of the additional freedom both the children and I enjoyed. What I do much better now as a Montessori teacher is that I tell many, many more stories. People, and especially children, love hearing stories and you can incorporate them into virtually every area of the Montessori curriculum. You can invent a story about how important it was for a woman to learn division. You can give a caterpillar a name and tell a story about metamorphosis. Of course, history, geography, and literature all readily lend themselves to stories with content. Just read a lesson you want to teach the night before and dream up a story. The children will love it and they will remember your words — in some cases for the rest of their lives! I have never written my stories down because there just never is time. I am saving that pleasure for retirement. But then, people who love teaching, and especially Montessori teachers, never really retire. Why would you quit what you love?
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 6, 2012.