The Second Year of a New Classroom - Casa North

There were days last year when Casa North first opened where I felt like I was in Munchkin land. This feeling would only grow when I was told, “Melanie, you’re bigger than a cow AND an elephant.” Picture it, one adult, with 8 children all 3 years and under. I won’t deny that there were some challenges. There were also many amazing moments. Those children who had begun their time at Westside in Yonina’s class astounded me with their abilities to dress themselves, select their own work and return it when finished (although in the fall months I had to play the game of hunt the activities on a daily basis, since they were not necessarily returned to the correct spot). Those children who were new to Montessori seemed to catch onto the daily routine and classroom expectations quickly. We became a little like a family, especially over lunches (which in the beginning were usually silent, as the children couldn’t do two things at a time, such as eat and carry on a conversation).

Over the year as more children joined the class and the social and communication skills that we worked on daily began to take root, lunches became more dynamic, we shared stories about our daily lives and got to know one another better. During our Montessori work cycle there were even the occasional moments of silence, a sure sign to a Montessori teacher that good work and complete focus is going on.
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Still, by the end of the year I wondered how solid was the foundation I had been laying all year long?

I got my answer this September, as the Casa North crew filtered in on the first day of school. Like old friends they chatted with one another, catching up on what each one had been doing for the summer, and then, what to my wondering eyes did they do? They each strolled over to the shelves and without hesitation they each selected an activity.
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It was almost as though they couldn’t wait to get back to work! That was the moment I knew I had laid a good, solid foundation. It has been so incredible to see the older children assisting the younger ones with zippers and snaps, observing the growing peer interdependence, as they come to recognize each other’s strengths and skills.
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Another amazing milestone has been seeing Casa North students lead Westside to our Friday’s at the park, something which would have been impossible a year ago (I have even noticed a few of the older Casa South students react in surprise when they notice who is in the lead). Our little family has grown to include 14 children along with Natasha who brings sunny smiles as well as French into our little family environment. I no longer feel like a visitor in Munckinland, in fact there are many moments when my presence does not seem to be felt by the class at all. I am truly a Guide to these children on their journey through life, accessible when needed. Exactly where I want to be!

- Melanie

November 3, 2011. Classroom life. No Comments.