When it came time for me to present a lesson, I fumbled and stumbled over the explanation of the materials and the steps. My mentor stopped me and said, “In Montessori, we show, not tell.” In other words, let the materials speak for themselves.
Presenting Montessori Lessons: The Freedom to Present Without Words
Dr. Montessori preferred her teachers to have no prior teaching experience. She was afraid it would be too difficult to unlearn all the conventional wisdom and practices. Instead, she wanted her teachers to come without preconceived notions of best practices. Looking back, I understand her concern. It took some time for me to stop talking and over explaining during my lessons. I thought if I was not talking, students were not learning.
Finally, in a moment born of sheer exasperation, my mentor told me she wanted to see me present a lesson in complete silence. I was terrified. How would anyone understand if I did not explain what I was doing? I nervously prepared my lesson and invited my fellow teachers to join me at the mat. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. As I went through the lesson, the materials were all that was needed to keep the lesson focused. The freedom to present without words helped me focus on my exact movements and the precision of the lesson. When I was finished, my peers told me it was the best lesson I had presented by far.
Next time you get ready to present a lesson to your students, challenge yourself to do it in silence. I promise you will see a world of difference, not only in yourself but in the focus and concentration of your students, as well.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, December 17, 2012.