Each day working with the children is drastically different dependent upon how I approach the day. My attitude effects how my day goes to an almost eerie degree. That seems pretty obvious to most people: if you go into a day thinking “Ugh, I don’t want to go in today, the kids are going to be silly and not listening” then your day will be a reflection of that feeling because that is the thought you are fixated on.
I haven’t decided yet if it is better to go into a day with no expectations, or high ones. If you go in with no expectations, you might be surprised at what you find! It almost sounds negative to have no expectations, but it’s not that you don’t care. It’s more the thought that “anything that can happen, will happen, and we’ll all make it through OK”. If you have high expectations, you might expect too much out of your children. I’m not saying that the children we encounter everyday are not capable of amazing things: Montessori education has astounded me time and time again with what these children are capable of. However, if you go into the day thinking “Alright, he’s going to do these works, I’m going to make sure she stays busy, this child is going to do all of these works, and I’m going to make a point to work with these three children today.” you are almost surely going to stress yourself out! That seems like a relatively simple day, but as we all know children are their own beings. Our job as a Montessori teacher is to assist the child in learning, and to encourage their participation and development, but there are some days that the child feels like taking it easy for the day. Perhaps that’s not very Montessori of me, to allow them to be the social creatures they are for a day, but I believe we have a very happy classroom! Our children get a lot accomplished, and many times when left to their own devices create amazing things! Seeing one of the older children create beautiful pieces of art with the Red Rods and the Colored Cylinders (Knobless Cylinders) is very thought provoking, as opposed to my fixation with the children not doing more “challenging” work.
The days that I have a little mental checklist for myself on who I want to work with and who I want to see do certain works often turn out the most chaotic. Because those thoughts are being fixated on, it seems wrong to not see them all through. At the end of the day I feel exhausted and somewhat defeated if I didn’t get around to everything I wanted to see done that day. So instead, I’ve just been approaching each day as: “I’m going to encourage and assist all of the children that I can today. If I don’t get to someone, there is always tomorrow.” Approaching each day as it’s own entity makes me feel calmer. Instead of fixating what I didn’t do, I make a point to appreciate what I did do.