The Joy of the Journey Together
I have always loved the moments of discovery when children learn through their direct experience of exploring their environment – their sense of wonder and excitement is so inspiring. I relish the moment when I can get down on the floor with a child as he finds his way through new materials or as she tests out her idea about how something works. I am most fascinated by the “discovery moment.” – when the child is observing and making adjustments in their work that leads to a new discovery. I watch carefully to see how best to support the child while letting them develop their own process.
As a teacher, I am committed to the journey of learning together. Whether the conclusion of a moment is celebrating meeting the goal or regrouping to try again later, the greatest learning for the child becomes trusting the learning process itself. The child comes to trust teachers to join their journey, being committed and fully present, and supporting all the learning that comes from that moment. The more we can help a young child feel confident and comfortable in the process of learning, the stronger will be their foundation as a life-long learner.
Montessori Methods Maximize Learning
Through the learning process, often a child will teach me how best he or she learns from the material. As the child engages how the work is done, my challenge as the teacher is to utilize the prepared classroom to guide the child to connect in their own way to the goal of the activity. The infinite ways children can learn the same skills and knowledge is fascinating. What games will they create as they match two halves of a snowflake? How will they animate the animals to deduce which habitat they came from? Montessori methods allow children to innovate and lead their own learning with the teacher guiding the experience within the curriculum goals, but not directing the process. Incorporating this distinction dramatically increases the level the child takes ownership of his or her own learning.
Coaching Confidence Even in Challenges
As a teacher I want to build the child’s confidence as I help increase his capacity in different subject areas. The greater the child’s confidence the greater freedom they will have in taking risks in developing their own ideas, challenging themselves to explore new areas, and choosing progressively harder work as they master each level. The key I have observed is working a like a coach. For each child, we find the balance between the comfort that helps produce mastery and just enough challenge to increase the child’s persistence and tolerance for the frustrations that naturally arise as they wrestle with something new or more challenging. We read the situation to see when they have reached their peak learning for that moment and then positively close the experience, regardless of the outcome. The underlying principle is that learning is a life-long process through which we are coaching children to successfully persevere through challenges. Outcomes will always vary, but learning is a constant. We teach our children to celebrate what they have learned in every experience.