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.

The Power of Positive Thinking (Work Edition)

Montessorians approach children in a unique way. We believe in positive discipline, encouragement instead of praise, and utilizing power collaboratively instead of imposing our will upon the children we work with. Though it may sound normal, it is actually one of the most counter-intuitive pieces of learning Montessori – for most people, it requires unlearning a lifetime of socialization about how we should deal with children.

The basics of the approach look something like this:

  • Provide limits, structure, and routines
  • Give love unconditionally and avoid rewards and punishments
  • Model appropriate behavior (especially social etiquette)
  • Limit intermediate devices (like cell phones) when interacting with children*
  • Minimize time spent with poorly regulated influences (i.e. television)*
  • Offer encouragement instead of praise
  • Find ways to share power with a child instead of wielding power over the child
    (*Not applicable within the Montessori classroom)

Observing these guidelines goes a long way in creating a peaceful classroom and building student-teacher relationships and this approach is one of the things that draws me to Montessori. In short, we aim to treat children like people instead of children, a distinction that aims to respect their humanity and development and is often missed elsewhere.

In practice, this makes our classrooms incredibly positive places. There are any number of guidelines that children must follow, but any failure to do so is met with kind words and a gentle reminder. For example, if a child fails to push in their chair after leaving it, we simply say, “Oh, I think you forgot to push in your chair.” in a calm, kind voice. The most typical response is some sort of gasp and smile as the realization that they did indeed forget washes over them followed by quick replacement of the chair under the table. While we try to avoid praise (things like: good job, I am so proud of you, you are the best ________), encouragement abounds. We acknowledge hard work, focus, concentration, teamwork, and other positive behaviors with observation (i.e. our classroom looks neater now that you helped put things away).

These tactics teach children that it’s okay to make mistakes and to fail. Plus, they go a long way in showing them positive ways to deal with other people. Instead of assuming the worst of a friend who has done something wrong, the children have hours of examples of adults assuming the best to pull from. Perhaps most importantly, this approach helps children to develop internal motivation and a sense of responsibility to the community at large. By observing the impact of their action (positive or negative) instead of framing their work in relation to ourselves (i.e. “I like…”) they learn to work for their own fulfillment rather than merely to please someone else.

I have known this approach to be wonderful for children for a couple of decades, but I never considered what a difference it would make in my  day. Instead of coming home feeling drained and negative about all the little things that had gone wrong (even on generally good days), last week, I had a hard time coming up with anything negative to say at all. For the first time in a long time, I left work feeling good about myself, my work, and the students in my care multiple days in a row. I know the novelty of this work will likely wear off, but it seems almost impossible to leave feeling miserable when you’ve spent the entire day looking for the good in and assuming the best of others.

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

Follow the Child

I have been enamored with Montessori education since the moment I learned there was anything else out there. I’ve been defensive about it, passionate about sharing it, and inspired by the possibilities I saw within it. But when asked the all too common question,

What is Montessori?

I found myself fumbling to find a succinct answer. Many components of the philosophy would jump to mind, but rebuttals to each of their value followed just as quickly. Without having seen a Montessori classroom it is tremendously difficult to understand, so the real answer I gave would involve a minimum of a three-hour observation.

Naturally, I know most people are simply not willing or able to commit to such an act, particularly not the random friend who really only asked as a courtesy. So I would fumble around grasping for tangibles that usually ended up explaining more what Montessori is not: traditional education. As I finished up my Montessori Teacher Education course, I’ve finally discovered an answer.

Montessori is an educational philosophy in which teachers follow the child to help them develop as a whole person.

We let children teach themselves through interaction with a carefully prepared environment that allows them to work at their own pace. The Montessori materials are a huge part of this, but using the materials facilitates the child’s learning more than the teacher does. The child selects which material they wish to work with (that they’ve been introduced to) based on their needs and desires, and the teacher observes to identify what the child needs next: a more challenging lesson, more time with this one, or a re-presentation to clarify the object of the material.

To me, following the child makes complete sense as an educational model, but I can see how others may not agree. I’ve asked several of the instructors from my program for their thoughts on whether Montessori works for every child. Their response? Almost every child, the whole model is to follow them, so how could it not work for them. But, this is quickly followed by an important caveat: It definitely isn’t for every parent though. The Montessori methods ask us to forget about years of norms that dictate how we raise children, which is not small task. But, for those who are willing to try it, the risk can be highly rewarding.

A Teacher

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A teacher!”
6 year old me

My response was a no-brainer and came as no surprise to any adult who asked me. I was a child who spent hours upon hours making a school, complete with a classroom and a full curriculum, to teach her dolls in. I cherished opportunities to share knowledge with my classmates and had already been indoctrinated with my father’s wisdom that I would be an excellent teacher someday. My life plan was complete.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, a teacher?”
“Ugh, no, I’m not going to be a teacher. They don’t get paid enough and no one likes them.”
12 year old me

After only a year and a half in a traditional public school, I had wised up to the ways of the education world. It was painfully clear to me that few teachers got the respect they deserved, either from their students or from the general population. At 12, I could already see that teaching is billed in society as a sub-par career, even if we would never dare speak those words aloud. Teacher hours are long, salaries minuscule, expectations grandiose, and success hard to see.

“What do you plan to do with your life?”
“I don’t know, but it has to be in education and I don’t think I can be a teacher.”
22 year old me

My own education spooked me from the traditional system, showing me how difficult typical teacher jobs really are. I found a home in universities, educating students co-curricularly, and while I loved that, it wasn’t close enough to my passion to satisfy my motivations. I realized in grad school that I was not on my final path, but couldn’t see a place for me to fit into a system I hated. My advisors understood my predicament and cautioned me against entering the public school system, recognizing its power to either break my resolve or make me explode.

“What’s your long term goal?”
“I think I’d like to teach teachers.”
Current me

I still don’t think I can by a traditional K-12 teacher for any length of time, the system is too messy and the expectations too out of sync with my values. But more than those issues is that I like teaching about how kids learn much more than I like actually teaching kids. I enjoy watching a kid finally understand equivalent fractions under my direction, but I go weak in the knees watching someone fundamentally change how they are going to work with children.

I’m open to what the world brings me, and I know that I could still change my mind. My work with younger children in a Montessori setting could set a fire in me that flares just as bright as the one for engaging education in general. I am floored to have the opportunity to learn and share the Montessori method at all, but there’s still a big chunk of my heart that can’t wait to share it with future teachers who can then spread it to the world.

Despite my attempts at denial, my six year old self knew my passion better than I have for all the years since. I wonder what else she could teach me?

Being Good

3 hours.

Three hours is the approximate amount of time I had spent being responsible for children prior to starting as a teaching assistant. I accepted the job with a lump of uncertainty in my gut – was I even remotely good with kids? Would I enjoy working with them at all?

Just like I have with every role I’ve taken on, I worked hard to become competent at the work. But unlike the other work I’ve done, I find myself questioning whether the work is something I want to be good at. Daily, my fundamental beliefs about what is best for children are challenged. Daily, I am asked to interact with kids in a way that I believe limits their ability to be good citizens. Daily, I have to grapple with whether I am now part of the system I despise.

Early on, I came to terms with the idea that I was not actually doing harm to the children I teach, but that was a hurdle. My instinctual response to the constant discipline and the unnecessary rules was values turmoil and a gut check as to whether I could continue the work. But, I was reminded that millions have survived our school systems with little permanent damage (short of a distaste for learning) and that even if I might have a better way, the traditional way still produces capable humans.

As the school year went on, I stifled most of my disquiet in the routine of each week. But, in my school April brings showers of questions from colleagues about whether you will return in August. As I’ve struggled to nail down concrete plans to earn my Montessori teaching certification, colleagues and supervisors have urged me to stay in my current role, or to obtain my traditional teaching credential. With each piece of praise I receive, I am struck by the question looming in the back of my mind:

Is this something it’s good for me to be good at?

On the one hand, I’ve strived to incorporate as much of my own teaching philosophy as possible into my work with students. I try to respect their humanity, be patient beyond my perceived limits, give them choices as much as possible, and make learning as engaging as I can.

On the other, I have enforced rules that I find asinine, been frustrated with students reacting to their stifling environment, and voluntarily implemented learning systems that are terribly boring.

I want to believe that the former is what has helped me earn respect at my school, but I fear my willingness and skill for the later may be the biggest contributor. I am proud of my ability to deal with an exceptionally challenging group of students day after day, and my ability to do so with patience and kindness for them more often than not. But I’m less proud of my willingness to mold to the demands of the traditional environment, even when it challenges what I believe to be right.

The Book Whisperer

I come from a family of readers; a mom who taught me that books are as valuable as money, and a dad who would be content to never turn on the TV (except for UK basketball games – go Cats!) because he’s engrossed in his book. As a student affairs professional, I regularly referenced and recommended books that I hoped would speak to my students the way they did to me. When I entered my third-grade classroom, I was excited to continue that tradition.

Quickly, I realized that not all students feel like I do about books. I choose one and immediately feel committed to finish it; they give a book three or four pages (a chapter if they’re feeling generous) to decide its worth. I will read nearly anything; they have stronger preferences for genre and style. I care for books meticulously; they casually toss them, shove them, and accidentally tear pages. I am a reader; they are still deciding whether they will be.

And I had a startling realization that I knew few books that were appropriate for my third graders. Despite seeing hosts of books in the library that I have fond memories of, I quickly discovered them to be beyond most of their reading levels and maturity. Most of my favorite stories are written for middle schoolers, with themes over the heads of even my best readers. I simply lack the knowledge to provide valuable recommendations to my third graders, especially because their interests in books (and in general) are still developing.

I recently finished The Book Whisperer after a reader of this blog suggested it as an alternative to the Accelerated Reader approach to teaching reading. Donalyn Miller, a sixth-grade English teacher, argues that we approach reading all wrong. She advocates that allowing students to read books they enjoy is far more desirable than having them trudge through classics or works that are more meaningful than pleasurable. She creates this environment by expecting her students to read forty books per year and gives them time to read in class every day. The students choose their forty books from a simple list of genre requirements. Instead of focusing on the same book as a class, they regularly read different books and collaborate on projects using common themes or literary elements.

Miller, an extraordinary bibliophile, believes that molding students into readers is the most worthy of goals, and that through extensive reading they will gain the experience and knowledge needed to succeed in writing, English class, and standardized tests. She has some advantages in making the approach work: first and foremost, a supportive principal. She also teaches a combined English and Social Studies block (a great example of uncovering The Lost Subject!), giving her significantly more time with her students each day and the flexibility to interweave content from both subject areas seamlessly. Finally, she has a vast library of personal books that she’s familiar with to share with her students.

I greatly enjoyed The Book Whisperer and longed to be in such a classroom — as either a teacher or a student. I agree with Miller that giving students more time and freedom with reading exhibits the value of the skill and encourages them to take interest in books that they otherwise would not. Her alternative assessments — focusing on understanding and application of literary themes — strike me as superior to the class-wide novel study buttressed by page upon page of comprehension questions and a cumulative test weeks later. She even manages to incorporate common reading experiences through short stories and student-to-student recommendations. She laments how few books students have read before they arrive in her classroom, and her kids return to her year after year to bemoan how little reading time they receive in later grades.

I see challenges with implementing Miller’s approach, but mostly because the established system is so well-rooted. It’s difficult to imagine my students engaging with books in the manner Miller describes, but I suppose most of her students felt the same way on their first day in class. After experiencing a third-grade class this year, and the daily struggle to engage students in reading, it seems to me that Miller’s approach could successfully turn the focus back to inspiring students to become lifelong readers.

Real Learning

We entered Science class and took our seats. The children squirmed expectantly. A PowerPoint presentation fired up in the background. The teacher began.

“We’re going to do some real learning today, not an interactive activity, because sometimes we have to actually learn some things in Science.”

I tried to keep my jaw from dropping at these words, and settled in for some slides about types of clouds, with one eye on my students. After their initial disappointment, they handled the presentation well — most of them were engaged, even offering examples of the types of clouds they had seen that week. I have no problem with the presentation; it was short, sweet, and prepared the kids to make their own clouds in class next week. But the preface continues to rankle me days later.

It is my steadfast belief that learning should be engaging and fun almost all the time. Interactive activities are one of the best ways to achieve this goal. I honestly believe that the Science teacher knows this, as at least 90% of her classes are chock-full of activities and experiments. But she, like many teachers, has been socialized to think learning isn’t fun: learning is accepting information. Paulo Freire, the inspiration for my love of education, explains this model:

Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into “containers,” into “receptacles” to be “filled” by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. (Chapter 2, Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

Freire argues that not only is this education model ineffective, but that it hinders development and makes us less human by stifling our creativity and critical thinking. Instead, he proposes that we eliminate the false dichotomy of student/teacher and empower each other to think critically, recognizing that only through communication can human life hold meaning.

By telling our students, whether through our words or actions, that real learning only happens when they receive information from an instructor, we limit their potential and further the “school sucks” narrative. Worse, we insinuate that learning itself is boring and painful, paralyzing many children before they really even have a chance to engage in the learning process.

Modeling the Growth Mindset

Growth mindset. If ever there was a hot topic in education, this would be it. Multiple times a week I come across articles discussing it, and have even written about it in ”Reconsidering the Avoiders”. One of the biggest factors of implementing the approach is modeling it for students: showing a growth mindset in ourselves and how we approach learning.

Quick summary: a growth mindset believes that learning is always possible, and that one’s ability is not dependent on or limited to innate qualities.

While my school talks about this mindset and encourages staff to foster it in students, I’ve noticed significant challenges in doing so. First, because of the nature of who is drawn to teaching, not all teachers have a growth mindset — or they forget it sometimes. Second, the intense time pressure of school makes implementing these practices tricky.

Teachers are, generally, people who like to be in control and the center of attention. While this manifests in a variety of ways, few people who don’t like to be in charge find themselves leading a classroom in a traditional school. This need for control can inhibit a growth mindset, and I think the struggle is particularly true for elementary teachers. As a third grade teacher, I share concepts that are considered simple by the rest of the population, and I often take for granted that I will either know the answer or will be able to immediately figure it out. Of course, this doesn’t always work out.

Sometimes, I discover that I have helped a child land on a wrong answer. On a recent math test, I counseled five different students through a particular problem before realizing that I wasn’t doing the problem right at all. Fortunately in this instance, I was able to call them back and share my mistake while helping them see the correct path. But other times, feeling duped by a worksheet or poorly phrased question, I go in a completely different direction, insisting that the seemingly odd answer is indeed correct. A recent matching sheet about Charlotte’s Web asked who pledged to save Wilbur and was missing the choice “Charlotte.” Rather than allow the flummoxed students to cross out Fern, I rationalized how Fern could have been the correct answer and argued with them until they relented. I try to employ a willingness to share my mistakes with students and let them see that I am frequently wrong, but in the moment it’s hard to do so.

This is especially true because we are constantly pressed for time. With the students I led astray in math, I wish I could have spent even more time explaining what went wrong and why the new way made sense. But with four other students in line and a limited window for the test, it didn’t seem possible. Daily, there are situations that could warrant a debate over a question or answer, but my schedule doesn’t allow for such discussion very often.

To adopt a growth mindset, my students need to change their attitude towards mistakes and new challenges. The phrase, “this makes no sense,” has become so prolific in my classroom, and causes me such anguish, that the students who hear it anticipate my reaction and start chuckling at my caricatured frustration. Some even respond to their classmates, “Ms. Schultz doesn’t like when you say that.” These words hurt my soul (almost as much as when they use library books for umbrellas), but we have yet to have a class conversation about why the phrase is so detrimental — there hasn’t been time.

Surely, helping our students vanquish this attitude has as much value as being right on a worksheet. We need to admit our own shortcomings if we are going to be the models our students need to adopt a growth mindset.

Crisis in the Classroom

I was alone with my students for 75 minutes at the end of the day, and calling it trying doesn’t really cover it. Traumatic, terrorizing, and terrible all seem more appropriate (and those are just the ‘t’ words!).

The 75 minutes after PE is usually not the best. Often my students are checked out, exhausted, or complaining of belly aches. But sometimes, the competition (real or perceived) has created drama that doesn’t get left on the fields. This is how my ordeal began.

Several of my boys were in a heated argument over who won a race and how “the losers” were treated afterwards. There were all sorts of claims about what happened, including teasing, mocking, cursing, and gesturing. Naturally, the students wanted to take a few minutes to step outside and discuss, but with only one teacher in the room, this became extremely challenging. I am fortunate to have an adjoining classroom and so I called in another assistant to watch the rest of my class while I a) tried to ascertain what happened and b) convinced one child to calm down enough to come inside.

The assistant improvised an activity with ease and her support was invaluable, but the uncertainty of the situation combined with the drama had the kids even more riled up than usual. The next hour was a battle of constant requests for attention, which I lost so badly that we barely made it out the door on time. With five minutes left in the day, my teacher returned to a classroom that looked like a tornado had whipped through, with students doing anything but what I was asking them to do, and three boys clamoring for her to mediate this situation.

This type of drama is not new to my class, and normally we have multiple adults in the room so we can maintain the majority of class activity while simultaneously launching an investigation. But alone, I was flummoxed. I considered sending the boys to the guidance counselor, but had no idea if she was available or if the three of them could get there without starting a physical fight. I debated asking the other assistant to continue watching the class while I tried to mediate; but knowing these particular boys, I doubted my ability to manage their conversation in a way that didn’t make it worse. Ultimately, I decided my best approach was to ignore the issue until I could get support. My teacher and I discussed it briefly, so she’d have my take on the facts, and she dealt with it.

This incident, and the others like them, have convinced me of several things. First, teachers need support in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. It could be an assistant, or a “panic” button that calls someone in. But if they are expected to manage the social and emotional development of their students, they need room to do so, and that requires more bodies. Many schools train teachers to send these students to the guidance counselor or the behavior resource teacher, but I don’t think this is the best solution. Taking the time to manage these issues, while trying for the teacher at times, is a powerful relationship and community builder. Our students trust that we will help them work through their issues and treat them fairly, which makes for a stronger learning environment overall.

Second, new teachers need mentor teachers, and badly. After this experience, I wanted nothing more than to explain what happened and hear ways I could have handled it better. I was primed for learning but had little opportunity to engage in it. Daily, I am faced with a hundred decisions that I’m not sure about, and I’m not even in charge! Plus, I have the enormous benefit of a teacher in the room to learn from through discussion, observation, and direct guidance. I cannot fathom how overwhelming and lonely the first year of teaching would be for a teacher without another adult in their room at all times. I recognize that it seems unrealistic to provide two full-time professionals in every classroom, and so I offer that providing a formal mentor, who is available for consult after experiences like these could be a strong alternative.