Becoming a Teacher

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.

education-is-spontaneous

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.

Making Bread

Name: Making Bread Area: Sensorial / Gustatory
Materials: Large bowl, 1/3 cup measure, flour, honey, tray, teaspoon measure (2), yeast, hot water, measuring cup, dish towels, paper, pencil, baking sheet, parchment paper, spatulas, food service trays, paper towels, salt, ¼ tsp., small bowl, bowls for mixing, plates, knives, cutting board, oven mitts, cooling rack, butter, jelly, oven, timer, quantity signs, recipe
Direct Aims: Concentration, Coordination, Independence, Order Indirect Aims: Use hands to make a simple bread recipe
Preparation: Practical life activities Age: Second year student
 making-bread

PRESENTATION BY THE TEACHER:

The Montessori Lesson:

  1. Wash hands.img_8228
  2. Get one tray with a towel, spatula, and paper towel per group.
  3. Get one bowl and place it on the tray.
  4. Measure one scoop (1/3 cup) of flour into the bowl.
  5. Measure one scoop (1 tsp.) of yeast into the bowl.
  6. Measure two scoops (2 tsps.) of honey into the bowl.
  7. Pour a generous 1/3 cup (3 oz.) of hot water into a measuring cup.
  8. Pour the water into the bowl.img_8227
  9. Carry the tray with the bowl to the workspace.
  10. Use the spatula to stir all the ingredients in the bowl together until combined.
  11. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel.
  12. Mark whose bread and what time it is, and leave the bowl to rest covered for 30 minutes.
  13. After 30 minutes have passed, wash hands and return to the bread.
  14. Uncover the bowl and set aside the kitchen towel.
  15. Add two scoops (2/3 cup) of flour into the bowl.
  16. Add one scoop (1/4 tsp.) of salt into the bowl.
  17. Return with the tray and bowl to the workspace and stir the ingredients together until combined.
  18. Place the bowl on the workspace.
  19. Take the tray back to the large flour bowl and get a pinch of flour, sprinkling it on the tray.
  20. Return to the workspace.
  21. Pour the contents of the bowl onto the tray.
  22. Knead the dough together for 3-5 minutes, collecting the loose clumps and adding flour or water (tiny amounts) as needed for the dough to come together and be manageable.
  23. Using hands, flatten the dough as much as possible onto the tray.
  24. Roll the dough up like a rug and press the seam together.
  25. Press the ends of the dough in to help create the loaf shape.
  26. Place the loaf onto a large, parchment papered baking sheet, and note where the loaf is on the pan on a separate paper.
  27. Cover the loaf(ves) with a towel and let rise at least 30 minutes.
  28. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  29. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Finished bread will sound hollow when you tap it.
  30. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  31. Slice the bread and serve with butter and jelly.

Points of Emphasis:

  1. Following the steps of the recipe.
  2. Measuring accurately.
  3. Mixing completely.
  4. Kneading for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Letting the bread rise.
  6. Noticing the work of the yeast.

Control of Error:

  1. Size of measuring cups and ingredient containers.
  2. Adults present.
  3. Food service tray as a contained workspace.

WORK OF THE CHILD:

Points of Interest:

  1. Making edible food.
  2. The ingredients.
  3. Seeing the yeast work and the bread rise.
  4. Feeling the dough with their hands.
  5. The smell of the bread.
  6. The taste of the bread.

Points of Consciousness:

  1. “I can eat this bread that I made.”
  2. “The yeast makes the dough get bigger.”
  3. “The dough feels good in my hands.”
  4. “We roll the dough just like a rug.”
  5. “I can measure ingredients.”

Self-Correcting Indicators:

  1. Too much of one ingredient: the dough is too crumbly or sticky.
  2. The bread doesn’t rise.
  3. The containers – dough spilling out of the bowl or off the tray.

Language: names of ingredients, sizes of measures, knead, dough, bread

Variations & Extensions:

  1. Add herbs to dough.
  2. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough.

Notes:

  • Works well as a whole class activity using groups of three.
  • Needs two adults for support (i.e. assistant and parent volunteer)

Check out the photos from our bread making adventure!

 

**Views expressed in this post are my own and not necessarily shared by Millhopper Montessori School.

Montessori and Nature

One of the tenants of the Montessori philosophy is what Dr. Montessori called the Prepared Environment. It has seven components which combined allow the classroom to function the way she envisioned in her early work:

  • Freedom
  • Structure and order
  • Reality and nature
  • Beauty and atmosphere
  • The Montessori materials
  • The development of a community
  • The adult

Several of these are unique to Montessori classrooms, but the one that I want to talk about today is the idea of infusing reality and nature into the classroom. The items used in the Montessori classroom represent real things, not fantasies or cartoons, all the way down to the books read to the children (in most cases). While fiction is certainly still a crucial part of our library, we strive to include books that depict realistic scenes, not mythical or anthropomorphized creatures. Children use real tools that are child sized, and clean things which are actually dirty instead of pretending to clean.

Effort is given to utilize natural materials as much as possible within the materials to increase the child’s connection to nature. Montessori believed this connection to be critical to the child’s development as a person and a learner. Many Montessori classrooms include one or more pets, and a variety of flora, helping children to gain respect and appreciation for all living things. Further, many Montessorians try to extend their classroom to include the outdoor environment. They might choose to set up some work in the open air, or have work that is only available to do outside. This can be a logistical challenge, but it is something that we strive for to increase children’s chances to be in nature.

This TED talk gave me a wonderful reminder that nature doesn’t have to be as hard to find as it sometimes seems, especially for children. I see the appreciation for exploration of nature amongst the children even on our playground – they are always finding sticks, leaves, nuts, and creatures that fascinate them. Dr. Montessori believed that this connection to nature was not only good for children in its own right, but gives them the foundation they need to become learners and scientists. As they explore, they are forming questions and theories and seeking explanations to complex systems, not to mention gaining an appreciation for the world that they live in.

Where’s your nearest nature? Have you explored it lately?

**Views expressed in this post are my own and not necessarily shared by Millhopper Montessori School.