“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
As teachers we are the decisive element in the classroom. It’s our empathy, approach, and patience that can cause a child to arrive sprinting into school, excited to learn, or dread coming with a growing pit of anxiety in their stomach. However, it’s easy to forget what a crucial role we play and get caught up in the monotony of recording observations and incessant redirection. Here are the 5 best books to inspire and remind you of your significance as a Montessori teacher.
The Absorbent Mind. Maria Montessori - Essentially the holy grail for Montessori philosophy. Allow Maria to refresh your memory of how crucial the first 6 years of life are in a child’s development. Of how they soak everything in effortlessly and what a pivotal role the teacher plays in preparing the environment.
The Tao of Montessori: Reflections on Compassionate Teaching - Catherine McTamaney. Each verse leaves you with something to ruminate on. It will remind you why your job is so essential and to be intentional each day.
Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills - Jane Nelsen Ed.D. Have days where you are pulling out your hair getting children to listen and follow directions? Jane Nelsen reflects on her doubts when disciplining her children: she was either so lenient she ended up not liking her own children, or so strict she didn’t like herself. This book offers guidance on how to be kind and firm at the same time.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk - Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. A practical guide to rephrasing what you say in order to teach the behavior you want to see. A quick, easy read complete with cartoons.
The Montessori Toddler - Simone Davies. Davies does an amazing job of reminding us that “toddlers can be tricky. [...] They will make you laugh. And they will probably bring you to tears. Or at least a high level of frustration.” She gracefully reminds us that raising little ones is not easy, but we are not alone in our struggles and most importantly, it’s okay not to be perfect. She gives realistic strategies to raise productive, cooperative, independent little people in as harmonious a way as possible.
I wake up every morning and jump out of bed to go to work. I see everyday in the way a child’s face lights up when I show them a lesson, pause to listen to them, or give them a hug that what I do makes a difference. The gravity of what I do has instilled in me the belief that continual growth and improvement is essential. There is no point at which, as a teacher, you have “made it.” The only way we can ensure we show up our best selves each day and model the traits we want to see in our students is to never become stagnant in our own pursuit of learning. “It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.” - Maria Montessori