Dear Mangrove Families,
Lessons I knew, but this year, I learned.
Conferences and toddler reports, the checkpoints to review progress, assess the current state of affairs, and set future goals are complete. These types of assessments give us the opportunity to establish a set of expectations with a vision for the future and then a chance to reflect on what took place during the journey. Nothing right or wrong. Just a time to reflect and reevaluate a new set of goals based on the information gathered.
Montessori teachers do this for themselves as well. When a person chooses to take on the task of guiding tiny humans, the responsibility requires a huge amount of dedication to setting goals and assessing and reflecting on one’s own SELF.
“The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self.” Maria Montessori
Each day, we have to plan and adjust. Upon receiving the new information from the day, the first step is to reflect. What did WE, the adults, do that day to influence what happened? Did WE help any given situation? Did WE interfere with any given situation? What do WE need to do tomorrow to better support the children, their needs, their development, their journey?
“I don’t need to teach anything to children: it is they who, placed in a favorable environment, teach me.” Maria Montessori
Each year, I also like to look back and see what the year, the environment, and the children have taught me, the teacher. This year what stands out the most is that lessons that ‘I knew’ became lessons that ‘I learned.’
I truly internalized setting an intention (a seed) and watching the children bloom in the space created.
For instance, after the toddler teachers had a deep conversation on the impact of our role in the children’s lives, how what we say, do, and model creates a lasting print, even when WE are forgotten, how we made them feel about themselves and others remains. We started pondering on how to establish a balance between independence and interconnectedness in the toddler community. How do we help them walk away with the initial building blocks of empathy and compassion for themselves and others?
Through those conversations, we shifted the language used, the focus of our attention, the experiences provided and we saw a shift in the relationships within the community. The toddlers reflected back our intentions. We took opportunities to highlight helping friends for the sake of helping and achieving personal successes after a struggle. By highlighting what we truly wanted them to walk away with, we created an environment of inclusion, support, opportunity, and compassion.
Observing a friend who overhears a need on the other side of the classroom and responding to that need without being asked.
Observing a friend who identifies the feelings of another and responding to those feelings by offering a hug.
Observing a friend who beams with pride and exclaims, “I did it” over an accomplishment the child earned after putting in the hard work.
In my years as a teacher, I have never witnessed the level of compassion for one another in a toddler classroom. Personally, this year, I needed to know that what we do matters. That if we stay true to our Montessori fundamentals if we provide a safe space with a genuine love for who the children are and who they will become, the world and the people in it will be better and do better.
“Children are both a hope and a promise for mankind.” Maria Montessori
I knew it. This year, I LEARNED it.
Thank you for gifting me the time with your children and the opportunity to learn.
Ms. Liz and Ms. Sonia