A distinct aspect of Montessori training is reflection. Thinking about the children in the classroom, their lessons and what comes next are things that may happen in other teacher training courses. What is generally left unsaid, except in Montessori training, is the self-reflection of the teacher and what that teacher brings to the educational experience of the children in his or her presence. The preparation of the teacher is an essential component of Montessori teacher training programs.
Our society is continually looking for an answer to what education reforms are needed. Should teachers be more accountable? Should we lengthen the school day? Have more rigorous testing? How do we prove that a given change is worthwhile? As I reflect more and more on education and its essential components, it is clear that at WMS we are on the right path. Through the process of self-reflection, the teachers are not simply looking at the child before them and deciding how they can best teach the “three Rs” – reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. They are also thinking about how to adapt their practice to make sure that our students are given the opportunity to collaborate, direct their own learning, communicate what they are learning and wondering about, and work with all of their teachers and fellow students as advisors on their path to learning.
Our strength is that we continue to reflect, to adapt and to address the shifts in our world. As stated in this recent article in the Washington Post, “Maybe the purpose of school is to help our kids find their own sense of purpose. To prepare them for a life where they can set, and achieve, their own goals… Imagine what our country is capable of if we figure out how to launch millions of purpose-driven kids into society prepared and energized to their world better through their talents, passions, developing skills, and ability to learn. Kids that are, truly, prepared for life.” This can only be accomplished if they learn to reflect on their learning; they need to be in a setting that values reflection as an essential ingredient of learning.