Lockdown Day 59 – Parent Post
Parent Post in appreciation of our Montessori Teachers
This week the teachers in primary, middle and high schools will be heading back to their schools for administration meetings, COVID-19 protocol training, curriculum reshuffling and timetable amendments. They will be headed to their classrooms to arrange seating, draw up schedules and organise a blended learning approach to meet the needs of those in the classroom setting, and those who are still going to be receiving their lessons remotely. As of today, the fate of our youngest children is still uncertain. Perhaps this evening, our president will provide us with a clearer directive.
As the schools slowly start reopening, we can only imagine the task of the teachers in navigating yet another unknown and dedicate this week’s post to them.
Montessori teachers start their professional Montessori and teaching journey with their training. They learn the ins and outs of how to use the specialised Montessori materials, how to manage the classroom, the importance of record-keeping and planning, and of course how to maintain the Montessori philosophy and ethos in all they do.
What they were not taught is how to manage their children in virtual situations. Most teachers, Montessori or otherwise, never received this training. And yet, they adapted and managed to pull it off.
Montessori, in its authentic form, cannot be done online. The didactic Montessori materials cannot be replaced with their representations in electronic format, nor by presenting them as a worksheet. Demonstrations of materials by teachers to the children on Zoom in no ways replaces the learning and understanding that the child gains when handling the material itself. The strength of the Montessori method lies in its ability to work with the individual child, using the individual children’s interest and level of ability to plan and engage the child meaningfully across the curriculum areas. Our multi-age classrooms allow the children to learn from each other in a way that benefits both the child receiving and the child giving the lesson.
So, how then did our Montessori teachers adapt to the lockdown and to taking the children’s learning and engagement online?
They created ingenious ways of sharing lessons, providing activities that could be done at home and above all realised the value of meaningful connection. Overnight, they became counsellors for parents and children alike. Over the past 50-odd days, our teachers have put aside their own worries, their own families and their own wellbeing for that of the children they serve. Many of our teachers have lost their part, and in some cases, all of their income due to the financial effects of the lockdown on families who for various reasons have decreased or stopped paying school fees. Despite all of this, our teachers have managed to keep their classes going. They have managed to keep meaningful and engaged connections with their children, and have provided unwavering support of their parents. For this, we would like to appreciate and salute their efforts.
And this is for the parents…
Whether you are sending your child to school or not in the next few days/weeks, please spare a thought for the teachers who are also human beings (believe it or not!), and who have also had their own emotional roller-coaster during the lockdown period. They are now faced with an enormous task of navigating reams and reams of policies and procedures governing everything from the sanitisation of their classrooms, to the maintenance of physical distancing, all the while being aware of the effects that all of these changes will have on the children.
They will also be needing to balance the needs of the children (and the expectations of the parents) who are coming back to school with those who will be remaining at home and require ongoing online support.
They will be facing the same concerns that you as parents have when making decisions about what to do for their own children.
They will be working with a trial and error approach to the next few unprecedented and unknown weeks. Policies and procedures will no doubt need to be adapted and changed as teachers see how the paper-policies and procedures actually work (or not) in a classroom situation. This will be as stressful for the teachers as it will be for the parents. We ask for gentle communication and collaboration in the weeks ahead as we all try to adapt to the contingency plans required for the continually changing situation we find ourselves in.
One thing you can, however, be sure of is that the teachers will be ready. They will be waiting to receive your children back with open arms (obviously in the figurative sense!). They will appreciate the efforts you have made with your children at home. They will be ready to support the next steps in your children’s education. What the children receive in the next few months may not be an authentic Montessori experience from an exploring and learning point of view. It will, however, be based on giving your children the best support possible within the restrictions that the pandemic has imposed.
There is a saying that says the best teachers teach from the heart and not from the book, and I am sure we can agree that our teachers have given much of their heart over this time to ‘their’ children.
For this, we say: THANK YOU ❤️