“The training of the teacher is something far more than learning ideas. It includes training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit.” -Maria Montessori
The most important thing you can do as the teacher of children is to prepare your own mind and heart for the task. It is not an easy one. Weather you are a parent homeschooling your own child/children, a Montessori teacher surrounded by colleagues, starting your own Montessori program or school, or tutoring children you must be ready in mind and spirit.
There are two kinds of preparation: The inner one that no one usually sees you cultivating (although the effects shine through in patience, peace and joy) and the external one that changes your environment by what you do and create. The inner preparation is the foundation on which to build your external preparation. It is the strength, the fortitude, the determination and passion which will propel you forward to success as you define it.
Your inner preparation will very likely look different from mine, but will nonetheless give you the calm peace you need to guide your little ones toward happiness, discovery, learning, and personal growth.
Some ways to cultivate inner preparedness might include:
- A morning routine of self care that gets you ready for the day. (This is not me at this season in my life with a toddler and preschooler! My day often starts before I am out of bed. 4 a.m. wake ups anyone?!)
- An evening routine that calms you down and sets you up for a successful next day.
- A personal quiet time of prayer, meditation, Bible or devotional reading.
- Reading inspirational books, blogs and articles.
- Personal reflection through notes, journaling, or simply quiet with your thoughts.
- Taking the time to laugh, talk, and relax with friends.
- Cultivating at least one enjoyable activity just for yourself.
- Getting enough sleep.
Are you on vacation right now? Have you been traveling, going to the beach, having picnics, sleeping in in the morning? Congratulations! You are internally preparing yourself to teach your children this Fall! This time of relaxing, reconnecting with yourself and others, and recharging is extremely important for your mind and spirit. When we are relaxed, happy, and calm we have the best creativity and ideas come to us.
In a few weeks as we begin to turn our focus on the more external preparations of teaching (work space, curriculum, schedule, procedures, etc.), we will have a more solid foundation on which to work.
There are two types of people when it comes to external preparation: The “Planner” and the “Fly By the Seat of Your Pants”.
I personally am a planner. I like to have everything scheduled out including what I am going to say and when I will say it, what I am going to do and exactly how I will do it. Details! When I began teaching I would write out a first day of school script! I would hold it throughout the day. The paper would be crumpled by the end when I peeled back each finger of my grip. I color coded scheduled events (green), directions and procedures (purple), the exact words I would say (red), and so on!
I no longer do this.
I’ve become a bit more relaxed with practice (and you will too). I still tend toward over planning, but I readily let things go if its just not working. I have a flexible framework from which I operate. I love to have a plan. I feel, well.., prepared when I have a written or well thought through plan.
Teaching as part of a team helped me fly a little more by my seat. It ranged from a quick planning/re-planning pow-wow in the morning (“Hey, that great plan for today that we made last week…gone…here’s the sticky note with the new schedule of crazy transitions and impromptu lessons…you’re ready to give that geography lesson today instead of Friday right?”) to an on the spot, “make it up as I go” plan.
Truthfully, both Planning and Flying are important. A good teacher knows how to do both. The Planner will feel a little more relaxed and go with the flow, and the Flyer will feel a little more calm because the pressure to make something up is removed. My advice is, that while you have a tendency toward one (plan or fly), work to cultivate both. Pre-plan, but be flexible enough to allow spontaneity and change. Strive for balance.
What are some ways that you internally prepare your mind and spirit to teach your children?
Are you a “Planner” or a “Flyer” when it comes to external preparations?