stories of discovery

Welcome to North Star Montessori’s blog.  Stories of Discovery is a place where faculty, students and parents share knowledge, experiences and things that motivate and inspire us.

The Power of Stories

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: November 10, 2017

Each week I find myself in the privileged position of being able to tell an age appropriate story in Sitka and Arbutus classrooms. These can be traditional tales, myths and legends, animal stories, family stories or anecdotes. Some stories the children know, some are new, and some become requested favourites, while others remind a listener of an experience that they wish to share.

 When choosing the stories to share, I usually make a large pot of tea and happily work through my many notebooks and story collections until the right tale strikes a harmonious chord. Recently, when looking for a Remembrance Day story, I came across this story, first told to me by a gifted storyteller, Dan Kading.

 

The Two Warriors

Two warriors faced each other, bloodied and bruised from their battle. Exhausted, they slumped to the ground, deciding to renew their fight the following day. Lying side by side as the light faded, they started to talk to each other. One produced a picture of his son back home, who would one day become a soldier like his father. The other told of his daughter back home who would one day be a nurse, to care for wounded soldiers like them. The two enemies continued this way until the sun began to rise. Struggling to their feet, they sheathed their swords, embraced each other, and parted in opposite directions, for truly it is impossible for two people to hate each other when they know each other’s story.

For me, it sums up the power inherent in stories. All that is needed is a teller, a listener, and a tale. The teller and the listener bring something of their own life experience to the moment. Together they’re both making the same journey. A warm relationship grows between the two through that storytelling moment. Connections are made.

 

As adults, we are often time-poor, but a few minutes of storytelling can transform the way we relate to others. Try:

  • Telling your children about your lunchtime, what you ate, where you sat, whom you were with, etc.
  • Tell someone about a random act of kindness you’ve experienced.
  • Share a moment of success, or a challenge, face-to-face with someone.
  • Recount a memory from your childhood.

Then be there to listen. Be part of the teller, tale, and listener triad. Experience the power of making connections, the power of storytelling.

A View Through the Window

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: October 31, 2017

Yesterday afternoon I witnessed something in the Extended-Day classroom that typically would not occur in a Montessori class until later in the year, if at all, depending on the make-up of the class.  I reflected on what I saw several times throughout the evening and I thought it was well worth sharing today as it speaks to the caliber and diligent efforts of the teacher (and foundation of the previous years in Casa) as well as to the respect and trust which is clearly the foundation of the student-teacher relationship.  It is achievements like these, which most Montessori Guides typically accept as the ‘norm’ while quietly going on with the rest of their day.  Achievements such as these however are indeed worthy of acknowledgement and celebration!

Yesterday I had a quick message to share with the Extended-day Guide while the class was in session.  To mitigate my interruption to the class, I peeked through the large classroom window to locate her and catch her eye so she could meet me at the door when she was free.  My eyes scanned the room and I couldn’t see her at first glance so I scanned more carefully stopping at each individual child or small group of children thinking that perhaps I missed seeing her because she was sitting on the floor or was hidden by a small group of children while sitting on one of the child-sized chairs to give a lesson.  Again, I couldn’t spot her.  On my third scan of the room, I more carefully observed each child in the room to make sure I covered every individual.  Where was she?  There was a child working with the Movable Alphabet, there were two children working collaboratively to sweep up a mess, there was a boy looking at a book in the library, there were two boys working with geometry material, there was one child washing his hands and there were  two more children quietly observing a third child do her work.  Their hands were clasped behind their backs as they quietly stood watching.  The children were working so diligently and the classroom running so smoothly and beautifully that I had to look three times to come to the conclusion that Guide was not there!

It was at this point that I looked up and saw the Guide organizing something on the bulletin board just outside the open classroom door.  I approached her and together we stood just out of eyesight of the children watching intently as they exhibited the self-direction, independence, collaboration, self-control, self-discipline, flow, respect for each other, and joy in their work that is one of the primary measuring sticks of the success of Montessori education.

After careful observation of the developmental needs of the children and providing the uniquely prepared Montessori environment where children learned, explored, were guided with respect and were trusted to follow their own natural interest,  Dr. Maria Montessori first recognized her own success as an educator.  She observed, “The children were working as if I was not there.”- Maria Montessori.

Of course this occurrence does not happen all day, every day.  There are far too many needs, desires and personalities for that to be the case and we must remember, the children are only 5 and 6 years old. Developmentally they are learning to be part of a social community, to be benevolent leaders, to control their impulses, excitement and feelings, and to make compromises that benefit the group rather themselves. 

As the children continue to grow and mature physically, intellectually and emotionally, it is important to widen our viewing lens from one myopic glimpse, one situation, or one isolated moment in time, to that of the larger picture ‘window’, and celebrate!

 

 

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