Metamorphosis Elementary School Of Monticello Inc

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From Calm to Chaos in 10 Seconds

My plan for the next few weeks has been to toss up some photos from time to time, as I've been buried in work. I've finished a study, analyzed results, and am attempting to write it all up in a somewhat cohesive way. Easier said than done! But today, our classroom was so hilarious, that I just had to write a few words about it. 

For the last couple of years, our children have been so normalized that the work cycle has been a breeze. We have felt that we could invite literally any observer, without trepidation, as the children know the ropes so well that they are a model Montessori group. We've actually gotten almost cocky about this notion. Ha! How we had forgotten that the equilibrium in the Montessori environment, that bubble, that work-full hum, can just pop and all heck can break loose. Today we were reminded...

A few weeks ago, we moved a little one into our group. She is two, full of gusto and determination, and already adored by all the other children. I have to mention her name because it adds to the aura of our calamities this morning. Her name is "Jurnee," however, a number of the other young children believe her name to be, "Germy." This is because, as you may have noticed if you are an educator of young ones, children have built a certain glossary of terms that they know in their minds by around age three; if something sounds similar, they always use their known word instead of the new one. That's why we have "metal insects," and "allergy eater fish," and the "Vampire State Building." (By the way, I would love to hear your favorite children's derivations of the english language - send to me in comments and I will post!) So...this morning as soon as I arrived, I felt the children's energy. They were a bit frenetic. There is so much going on around our school, as parents are preparing for our annual Italian Dinner/Raffle Fundraiser. Parents are lingering at school, discussing details, hurrying to complete projects, and the children feel it.  So far, little Jurnee has hardly caused a ripple in our classroom, and is quite focused and loves to work. But this week, in our studio, real canvases have been placed about, with many colors of acrylic paint for the oldest children. Every year they create one masterpiece each to be auctioned at our fundraiser. Jurnee has been quite unable to leave the paint alone. So my cooperating teacher, who is extremely skilled and well-trained, suggested we put some shaving cream out for Jurnee to finger paint in. I agreed that this was a fine idea, and she occupied herself for a time. Then she discovered that if she clapped her hands together hard, shaving cream flew about wildly and landed on all of her friends who were working at adjacent tables! The working children let out shrieks as the cream flew onto them. This delighted Jurnee! Our little boy who has sensory issues was standing near the scene of the crime. He had a look of pure horror on his face. Jurnee saw this and loved it. She jumped up with her hands loaded with shaving cream, and proceeded to move toward the little boy with her hands raised ala monster. This little boy who has an aversion to anything making contact with his person or his clothing, began to run, howling, "Noooo Germy, No!" Jurnee, giggling wildly, set chase. Mind you, this was happening over a few seconds, but the effect was stunning. Order dissolved. Chaos ensued. They made a loop around the room, and the next thing I knew the little boy had thrown himself through the air and was climbing me as if I was a tree! He made it to the top and held his knees up tightly, and Jurnee was apprehended by Miss Heather. Did I mention that our classroom dog was in pursuit, running after the two? When all of the children and teachers finally closed our mouths, I got the giggles. After my climber was assured that the little anarchist would not put shaving cream on him, I unglued him from me, and he slid down and sat on my shoe. As he walked away, I noticed a big blob of green paint on his bum. I looked down at my shoe and saw this...

Our dog, Sputnik, has green paws as well... No idea about the origin of the blob of green paint, but there was a commotion of floor scrubbing that followed. Now just what would a person think, who happened to drop in, during that two minutes? That Montessori! What a free-for-all!


A young man, who had no Montessori training, once shared his experience with subbing at a Montessori school. He said some children worked, while another group got out all the food from practical life, prepared a feast, then strapped paper plates to their feet and skated about the room. I remember being amazed that this could happen, and felt bad that it was his first experience with Montessori. Today, as I thought of his tale, I laughed all over again at his descriptions and my images of his day in the prepared environment. It works beautifully, almost all of the time, if adults are well-trained. But, as I was reminded today: We still have to be "prepared" for anything! Just keep your cool and never let them see you sweat.


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