A key to being a grand master Catholic Montessori Teacher
by David Fleischacker
One key to becoming a great teacher is to become one who is like a magnet to children. When you are a magnet, children want to learn from you over and over again. They return to you like a fresh stream quenching their thirst. Of course, there are a number of elements to becoming a great Montessori teacher — one has to know how to teach the lessons, one has to know how to move and talk to a child, one has to learn about one’s own character and disposition. But after these things, what else can one do? The answer is the difference between a mediocre teacher and a great one. That answer is to become a light to which the children are attracted. If you have to “get” children to do lessons, and yet all these preconditions are met, then you likely need this extra element. And it is not merely a subsidiary benefit, but it is central. That element is that first and foremost, the work or object of the lesson needs to reside in you as a beautiful, cherished treasure and discovery of your own. In other words, the guide needs to deeply treasure the material or activity that unlocks something in the world before giving that key to a child. How?
- You need to meditate on the work, think about what it does within your own interiority. Think back upon your own childhood. Think about all the facets of creation that this key opens for you. Think about how this key fits into God’s work of creation and salvation. And as you give this lesson more and more, you need to come to see it as a friend, an old friend, who has helped so many children awaken to the beauty of all that is good.
- Carry this “meditation” out not only in private but in the room while children are around. Make it real, not a show. Show them that you care so much about this work that you do it too. And you should be absorbing this work as an adult, deeply into your adult horizon and heart. There is a deep mystery in all of these works for every age.
With out that deep residence of the material in your soul, know that the students know when you are asking them to do something and you see it only as a duty and not a cherished mystery.
When you you show them a material that is deeply cherished in your soul, children then will come to you and you do not then need to “chase them down” to get them to do some work. And for those who do not come, presume God has not yet made them ready for the work that you cherish. Do not get upset about this. Do not go after them to “make” them like it or do it. This will back fire. Remember that God does not treat you that way. He could. But he respects your freedom. Do unto others what God does unto you.