Who am I? I am a Montessori educator.
My aspirations to become a teacher began at a young age. I was enrolled in Montessori school at the age of 3 ½, so I didn’t know much about traditional school until I left after 6th grade. But I remember “playing school” at friends’ houses, where those friends either presently attended public school or had at one point. We always did the lecture with the chalkboard for practice. I devoured the Little House book series and TV series, emulating Laura, who also taught in this way. So to me, that’s how you would be a teacher.
I guess that means that my Montessori teachers did things the right way. After all, Maria referred to the teacher as a directress whose job it was to guide us children along our paths of learning. I never thought of any of them in the traditional sense.
Public school was not a good fit for me. I didn’t like having to sit in the same desk in the same classroom at the same time every day and strictly follow the curriculum. There was no time for discussion. People thought you were weird if you tried to talk to the teachers. I just wanted to enjoy learning again. So I knew that when I went to college, I wanted to be a Montessori educator. But there were no such programs in college.
So I went with studying math and French. Those were two of my passions and I thought I would enjoy teaching in high school. I had started working in a Montessori school, though, in October of my freshman year. I primarily did after school care with ages 3-6, with some time with the elementary program. I also did their summer camp. And when I had to take time off from school for health reasons, I ended up being able to sub in all facets of the school, from lunch/nap to all classrooms to office to library. It cemented my desire to work in that kind of educational philosophy and I ended up switching to early childhood and elementary. That age group appeared to be where my talents and passion lay. And I could still teach math and French.
I also picked up Spanish, because I knew I was going to use that more than French, and special ed courses. Inclusion was much more of a reality and I wanted to be prepared. I had a few opportunities to use some of those skills in my role in after school care. And then the school decided to open up their own training program, using a lot of the same instructors as the program just north in Michigan.
I jumped on the opportunity. We did our massive studies that summer. I always felt ahead of the curve because I had a different perspective and understanding as a Montessori kid. And then that school year was the internship, with a few seminars scheduled every few months. I was the unpaid intern in one of the early childhood rooms. I continued my lunch/nap and after school care duties for pay. And then when needed, I would sub. I also worked in a daycare part-time in the evenings, primarily in the office, for additional income. And then after that year, it was time for me to break out on my own.
I did my classroom observations while also going on job interviews at schools that were within just a couple of hours from home. I didn’t feel like going too far. I managed to land a position in a school in my hometown where I grew up, so I was able to “stay home.” It was a very small school on a farm. I started out as a part-time teacher in the afternoon classroom and after school care and summer camp programs and eventually became the lead teacher of the program and co-administrator. But after three years, I knew it was time to move on. And I moved a few states over.
My first year was difficult because I was finally actually away from home. And I was an assistant to someone whose personal Montessori philosophy was quite different from mine. I stuck it out because I knew that second year, I was moving into my own classroom. And I stayed there for 12 years.
I learned so much more about Montessori education over all of those years. I saw several examples of what to do and what not to do. I became clearly set in my personal Montessori philosophy and embraced so many of Maria’s ideals. I have a solid sense of who I am as a Montessorian. And I like to share it.
I am not currently in a Montessori classroom. I left in 2015 for a variety of reasons. And for just as many, I have no plans to return in the near future. But don’t write me off in the classroom just yet. I do still continue to do childcare and tutoring. I continue to educate friends in the philosophy. And I still share Montessori with the masses via my Facebook and Twitter pages. My goal with this blog is to share some of my wisdom here as well. I long to keep educating the masses about how to do it and how easy it is to make it a part of your life. So my role as a Montessori educator has not ended.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have. Perhaps I can address them in some later posts. Until then, I will share my own stories and observations I have made, plus other great resources you can use to further your own Montessori education.