Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Montessori Grace and Courtesy: Not Just for Children

NAMC Montessori Grace and Courtesy between two teachers
“The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.” —Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.

From the time children enter the Montessori environment, we teach them about grace and courtesy. We use soft voices and gentle words to help direct children to make appropriate choices. We never belittle, ridicule, or use sarcasm. We teach manners and develop empathy in our young charges. We teach conflict resolution. But what happens when we are not with the children can sometimes be something altogether contrary to what we teach in the classroom.

Bringing Montessori Grace and Courtesy to Your Montessori Community

In order for your Montessori students to absorb the lessons of grace and courtesy, there must be a pervasive and inherent sense of respect between colleagues at all levels of the school. If members of the administration and/or staff are at odds, no matter how well you try to hide it, the children (and their parents) will sense it.

Conflict is difficult. We live in a society where judgment, blame, and finger pointing are rampant. The anonymity of social media allows us to “flame and blame” rather than resolve conflict. It is necessary to build a collegial and respectful environment in order to best serve the needs of everyone at your Montessori school. Learning about and practicing successful conflict resolution is an important part of professional development strategies.

Start the new year off by looking at the adult relationships at your Montessori school. You can even form a grace and courtesy club or committee. Ask everyone on staff to come up with at least two examples of grace and courtesy that is practiced among the adults at your school. Tally the results and share them at a staff meeting. Then, ask individuals to think about grace and courtesy practices that they wish were being practiced and share these at a subsequent meeting. The Grace and Courtesy committee I chaired held monthly social gatherings where we could share our appreciation of each other in an informal setting.

Grace, courtesy, and respect should not be reserved only for children. After all, as Confucius said, “Respect yourself and others will respect 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.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, January 23, 2013.


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