Metamorphosis Elementary School Of Monticello Inc

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thank You, Wind

Tousled children blew in through our front door at the beginning of last week. They stumbled over their own feet, sending boots and other children flying. Our weather's been rough and unusual for January, with bed-shaking thunderstorms in the mid of night, followed by powerful winds. Incessant, roaring background noise that was whipping the children into a bunch of little wildlings. Children seem to be particularly sensitive to strong winds, as anyone who has ever monitored a playground will attest. They come unraveled, running in circles, jumping off structures and onto each other, hooting, howling, maybe in mimicry of wind. I think that perhaps, underneath the surface, they are somewhat afraid of this wonder of nature, after all, as my mentor always said, "They've only been in the world for a few years." Maybe adrenaline kicked in by the physical sensation, the motions of trees, and that perpetual static of sound of prolonged wind sets them to spinning. Whatever the reason, the children were definitely not the little people we remembered from the Friday before. Teachers looked at each other with trepidation - just for a second. Although children may usually go right to choosing their work at our school, we decided to call them to circle. All seated, one could almost sense a sigh of relief. I always sense that the Montessori environment provides a little oasis from the harried culture that our families find themselves in these days. This day, the children had the roaring to deal with, along with lack of sleep from thunder added to their sometimes chaotic morning routines. There. The soothing ritual of "Here We Are Together." "I see Carter. Hello Carter. I see Ella. Hello Ella." Each child looks forward to being acknowledged and greeting their friends. When we gather at circle, we often share news, "...something that has happened very recently or right now." Today the news is unanimously weather news. Some of the youngest can only manage an alarmed expression and utter, "Tun-der!!" Older children give various accounts of their own bravery, mentioning that the dog was scared, but of course, they were not. Some admit to crawling into bed to hunker down with parents. The best port in a storm... Soon, these tumble weeds that rolled through our school door this morning look like our children again. We are much better. Let's go to work. Music is selected, composer's picture is placed on the music shelf, and off we go. We are not listening to Pachelbel or another lulling piece that one might expect, no, we are listening to a Velvet Underground song. Surprised? We use a timeline of musical history and feature composers and CDs that I've made for every period right through today. Elizabeth Mitchell's beautiful voice is singing, "What Goes On In Your Mind?" and this is a class favorite. We hear various phrases belted with gusto as someone does the Hundred Board, makes orange juice, paints and so on. (Only in Montessori!!!) Gus walks by the snack shelf, sees the bright, juicy oranges and the bagels and cream cheese, and exclaims, "OH! That snack makes 'my' happy!" Everyone's working. Peace in the classroom.

So many years ago, the child who lead me to Montessori, my son Nicholas, was exploring our prairie-style plantings in our front yard. He was almost three, wearing a pointy hooded sweatshirt on a beautiful, but blustery autumn day. All of a sudden, a small, brown pin oak leaf blew right into his little hand. He looked up, startled, but then recovered, grinned broadly, and cried, "Thank you, WIND!!!" I'll never forget that moment, that wonder in my beloved child's face. We lost Nick in 1990, suddenly, unexpectedly, at age twelve. My other two dear children, my Montessori children, and Montessori itself carried me through those dreadful years. Montessori and Nicholas Joseph have been my life's two greatest teachers. I would never have found Montessori if my son had not struggled in public kindergarten. And I  am sure that I might not have developed the level of commitment to professionalism and the ability to love and care for other people's children as deeply as I have, without running this difficult gauntlet. One of life's "mighty storms." (Nanci Griffith) I continue to love my son deeply through each child that I serve, every single time I soothe or encourage a child in exactly the same way that I would want my children to be served. Montessori taught me that. Nick taught me that. And that makes 'my' happy.

Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird
Great gift for children and families!


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