Observation is a key component of Montessori education. As part of a Montessori teacher’s training, she is taught how to be a thoughtful observer. Teachers are given lessons on how to allow the space for observing students during the school day, and in those observations, much is revealed. Watching children go about their work, play, interactions and lessons helps a teacher more fully understand the students in her classroom. Through these regular periods of observation, teachers are able to determine which lessons need to be reinforced and the next steps in each child’s path of academic and social growth.
At Wilmington Montessori School, we also encourage parents to observe. Each of our classrooms has an observation room where visitors and parents are able to watch what is happening in the classroom without being visible to the children. At this time of year, these spaces tend to be “standing room only” as parents, grandparents and other caregivers try to catch a glimpse of the child they dropped off a few minutes earlier. Is she crying? Does she have a friend? Is she busily working, smiling and talking to the teacher? Is the classroom a peaceful and productive environment?
While not all of this may be visible during a single observation session, over time a more complete picture is formed. These snapshots are put together to gain a larger vision of the classroom, the children, the teachers and what we call school. One observation tells part of an ever-evolving story.
As we begin a new school year and wonder about all of the things that make up our students’ days, it is important to be in a school where you are not only welcome but invited in to share your child’s day. At WMS, parents have the opportunity to observe quietly and unobtrusively or actively participate in the life of the school throughout the year. Schools were established to educate our population, and certainly children are at the center of that goal. But parents and other adults are a critical part of this as well. It is through observing that we learn how to best serve the children who depend on us to help navigate their world.