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Teacher Talk: Persistence

April 20, 2019

 

When you first learned about Montessori, you may have been enchanted by the peaceful classrooms, by the idyllic language about the nature of children and the hope for the future they offer. You may have imagined yourself a beloved teacher and guide, children gathered at your feet as you offered them a wonder-filled glimpse at the petals of a daisy, bluebirds resting gently on your shoulders. 

 

Zippadeedoodah. 

 

Most days, as it turns out, aren't much like that. 

 

OK. None days are actually like that. 

 

The truth is: teaching is hard. The truth is: much of what we look forward to as Montessorians we will never see. The truth is: we do it anyway. 

 

Day by day, you may encounter children who are "not yet peaceful." Day by day, you may have to remind yourself to "look to the child yet to come." Day by day, you may wonder why you ever bought into this to begin with. 

 

Our work as teachers is not measured day by day. Thank goodness. We would never see the growth. 

 

Our work is measured over months and years, as the child who held their mother's neck and cried for the first three weeks of school lengthens and stretches and settles and becomes the leader, consoling a friend on the playground, caring for the classroom pet. As the child who stomped through the classroom, scattering the golden beads and knocking over the tower, too big for their own body and oblivious to the trail they left behind, transforms and calms and becomes graceful and attentive, carrying a silver tray filled with tiny glass bottles without making a sound, welcoming a guest to the classroom with a freshly brewed cup of tea. As the assistant who yelled across the classroom to get the children's attention and rolled their eyes when you assured them that the children really could mop up that entire spill on their own, blossoms and emerges and quiets down, advocating for more time or patience for the children in conferences with parents or prepares an elegant new material for the Cultural shelf. 

 

Day by day, the horizon can seem unreachable. That's ok. The horizon will always be unreachable.  That's what makes it a horizon, from the Ancient Greek term used to describe the boundary of what we can see. The horizon will always in our view, but never attainable. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the work of it all, by the seemingly endless list of things yet to do, materials yet to prepare, shelves yet to clean, slow down. Take a seat. Observe. Ask yourself, "Where is the growth?" Look for it. It's there, although it's often overshadowed by the work that's still yet to do. We demand so much of ourselves that we can sometimes, ok, often, overlook the good work we've already done. But if we continue to ignore the quiet successes, we are ignoring the light posts that lead us toward that horizon. Day by day, we may only notice the dark spaces, but in the long, slow, path of humankind, we are shining in light. Look to the horizon, then get back to the work of the day to day. Keep going. 

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