I have often been told that I have high expectations of my students. Yeah, I do. But what is wrong with that? My expectations are high, but I never ask them to do anything that they cannot do.
My expectations are that children will be respectful. Respectful of each other. Respectful of adults. Respectful of their environment. Because I demand that respect, I get it. I am embarrassed when my children do not demonstrate respect toward some of the other teachers and adults at our school. But then again, those people do not demand it of the children. They also do not respect the children as they should. They have their own agendas but do not understand the children for who they are. They do not embrace each child's independent nature and work with what they have in front of them. I expect my children to expect respect out of me, to hold me accountable to them. Maria Montessori said that we need to check undesirable behaviors in children as we also embrace who they are as individuals.
I especially expect them to respect each other. I have a zero tolerance policy for bullying in my classroom. I regularly use the Peace Table and make sure children learn how to use it appropriately. I do not allow children to be mean to each other. If they think that someone is wrong because they think differently, I explain that other child's point of view. As I often say, if I could teach two boys with Asperger's to appropriately use the Peace Table at the age of 5, then all children are capable of using it.
I expect my children to push themselves. I will nudge them along their way, showing them what they are capable of doing. Again, I will never ask them to do something they cannot do. And I tell them this on a regular basis. I will review a lesson with them time and time again and point out their successes if they haven't yet noticed them. I love their expressions when they realize they are capable of doing more than they had thought.
I am a Montessori kid. I learned how to push myself to my outer limits. If I could do it, and can still do it in adulthood, they can do it, too.
I expect my parents to be supportive. We will not always see eye-to-eye on everything, but I expect them to at least listen to what I have to say. If they can respect me, then I will be respectful and listen to their point-o-view. When we work together, we can do more beneficial things for the child.
I also expect my fellow staff members to behave accordingly. Adults require freedom within boundaries. They need to respect me so that I can respect them. They need to model their expectations to their students. Walk the walk, don't just talk the talk. Children, even as young as three, can pick up on fake behavior. And I don't do well with false beings.
So again, my expectations are high. But I am not going to ask anyone to do something they cannot do. And that is how I can make Montessori work.