Maria Montessori said something along the lines of the true test of success in the classroom is the happiness of the children. I think that is something that we as adults often forget. We get so wrapped up in trying to meet standards and parent demands and squeezing in certain educational units that we often forget to take a step back and observe how the children are functioning. And yes, I will even dare to say that we sometimes focus more on our own happiness and sometimes overzealous ideals of how the Montessori classroom should function.
One challenge that I have to give myself on a regular basis is to truly step back and take a look at the children. This is especially important on those days that I am feeling overwhelmed and like I have lost control. Often it is a misinterpretation on my part. *I* do not feel content about what the children are doing. I feel like they should be working on other activities. I feel like I should be giving more lessons. Do you see the repeated use of the word "I"?
I miss the loft that was in my old classroom. When I felt like the classroom was becoming all about me and my feelings, I would climb up there for a birds' eye view. That perch gave me an excellent view of the classroom where I could make numerous observations. In the new building I can go outside to the hallway and peer in through the large windows. I can step back into the kitchen area and watch from there.
I often encourage my coworkers to do the same. Many times they will comment at lunch or after school that they felt like their day was hectic. But when I walk past on my way to the restroom, their children look happy and engaged. So I tell them this. Whether or not they believe me is a different story.
I remember my late father visiting my classroom on a few occasions. His comments were always the same. He said that there was always a lot of activity in my classroom and at times it was loud. But when you really looked at the kids, they were busy doing something. Even movements were purposeful. And they were all happy in whatever it was we were doing.
One of the keys to teacher happiness in the Montessori classroom is to let go of your own expectations. Remember the fundamentals of Montessori philosophy. It is all about the children and not about us. Gauge their happiness and then make adjustments as necessary. You will find that the tweaking will happen with less frequency as you do this.