I have worked in a Montessori classroom for a few years now. Despite the number of years, I am still amazed by the ownership and independent drive the children have for their classroom environment.
I arrive to the classroom each morning before the children enter. My morning routine usually, prepare the wash and rise water for dish washing, prepare the particle life area with water, sponges and other various material. Another norm for me is to set the tone by turning on soft music. Well, one morning, before I could complete my routine, a co-worker came into the classroom to chat. As we were talking the children entered the classroom. They greeted me as usual and then they continued on with their normal routine.
As I was ending my conversation with my co-worker, I noticed and felt a peace in the classroom. I stopped talking and turned around to look at the children. All the children had chosen a lesson and were sitting, engaged in their work. But, before they did that, the children had prepared the entire classroom. The chairs were properly set at the tables, the sponges where on the trays of the practical life pouring lesson and the music was playing softly in the background.
I knew they were able to prepare the environment for their use, such as using the chairs and the sponges. However, I was overwhelmed with joy when I heard the music playing softly and realized that they included the soft music in preparing their environment.
Their actions reminded me of why Dr. Montessori call her schools the “Casa dei Bambini” (the Children’s House). The environment has little to do with the adults. We are their guides and it is my duties to exist only when they need my guidance. Dr. Montessori said, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher […] is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist,” and that is exactly what these children did that morning.