With all of our philosophy and materials workshops complete, it was time to help the teachers of SHCJ get ready to get their school year under way. The most complex and time-consuming part of a Montessori teacher’s life is setting up the Montessori Prepared Environment. Hence, we decided the best use of our final day together would be to pair off and actually help the teachers of SHCJ to set up their physical classrooms for the school year. First, we met with the entire faculty to review the past two days and answer any questions. We were very impressed by their feedback and questions. They are very eager and clearly are not only paying attention to what we have been presenting, but also carefully considering how to apply what they are learning.
We provided the teachers with a list of required classroom items and worked our way through each area of the classroom, discussing which materials are appropriate for the beginning of the school year, where they are placed on the shelves, how they are used, and how they could be modified in the future.
The teachers of SHCJ must have thought we were all al little crazy when the first thing each of us did was to get down on our knees in the middle of the classroom! When creating a Montessori Prepared Environment, everything must be done from the point of view of the child and soon they were down on their knees right next to us looking at their classrooms the way the children see them. We also showed the teachers how Montessori materials must be placed on the shelves in order of complexity from the top left, to the bottom right. Several of them commented on how much sense that makes but that they would never have thought of it until it was pointed out. They were fascinated to hear how every activity is so carefully prepared, planned for, and presented. The Staff of SHCJ were very eager to begin practical application, so we divided into small groups and headed to the classrooms.
While we worked with the teachers to set up their individual rooms, Mike and Malcolm continued painting and moving furniture for Sister Mary Alice.
By the end of the day everyone was drenched, exhausted, and very proud of our results! The staff of SHCJ truly demonstrated how much they had learned from us this week and their classrooms turned out beautifully. Gone was the illogical clutter and in its place purposeful, age-appropriate materials created by the teachers with thoughtfulness and foresight. We could not have been more pleased with what we saw!