I have never considered myself to be a teacher. Despite leading five college courses, I never felt much connection to the identity. Considering the rest of my former day job in Student Affairs and the countless workshops that I prepared and facilitated, I often claimed the moniker of educator, but never teacher. Even as an assistant last year, when I started responding to “what do you do?” with “teacher”, I didn’t feel the ownership.
And then it happened: I started calling myself a teacher and meaning it. Simultaneously, I realized the great privilege and responsibility of the title “teacher” as I delved deeper into my Montessori certification requirements, observing other classes and considering how I would apply various strategies and ideas to my own (future) classroom. It has hit me like a ton of bricks – the responsibility of preparing the environment in a way that allows the children to learn is enormous. The sheer number of factors that have to be considered and decided upon is overwhelming.
I may be able to remember which order the shelves should go, and consult my dutifully prepared albums to decide where work should be placed upon them, but I will also have to decide every other micro and macro thing that makes our classroom function. Should we put day numbers on the calendar as they go by, or take them off? Should we have class jobs and what should those jobs be? Which of the thousands of possibilities for work should go on the shelf at any given time? What topics should we focus on to supplement the Montessori curriculum? The number of details that comprise a functioning classroom is stunning and the thing I am most confident about is that I haven’t even scratched the surface of conceptualizing all that I will need to figure out.
But it also feels right. Daunting, but conceivably manageable, and hugely exciting. These days, as I tell people I am a teacher, it feels like it is solidifying as a part of who I am. The back of my brain is working to try to piece together how my classroom might work, searching for ideas and analyzing every option for possibilities. Each day, the children that I work with fill my heart with joy, making it easier and easier to feel up to the challenge that preparing their environment creates. Perhaps by meeting this challenge and owning this responsibility of being their teacher, I will get to fill their hearts with a bit of joy as well.
**Views expressed in this post are my own and not necessarily shared by Millhopper Montessori School.