Wednesday, August 13, 2008

lessons in montessori, part one

Apparently Michael Phelps was more exciting than blogging last night. Baby G has been napping for about 47 minutes (but who's counting?), so we will see how many of my thoughts I can crank out before he wakes up.

I need to preface this post with a disclaimer: it will most likely be long, with lots of text and zero pictures. If you hate that kind of blogging you can stop reading now. Also, it will be about education and will include my unfiltered thoughts about the education system in our society. I think my special ed girls will find it interesting, people with children may want to read it, but everyone else might be bored. Just so you know.

So I have adored and loved this past year of being a stay-at-home mama. Nothing has been more rewarding or brought me more fulfillment. I would be happy forever to just get to stay home with my children. I understand that not everyone feels that way. Some women need the outlet of work on the side. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just don't happen to be one of those women. So when Gail called me up and offered me a teaching job I was REALLY not planning on taking it. Even thought we really could've used the money, we were making things work, and both J and I were committed to me being home with Baby G.

Then Gail started telling me the details. She is starting a school called the Elizabeth Academey. It will be a private school for kids with disabilites who will be intermingled in class with typical students. This first year it will just be for 4 and 5 year olds (my favorite ages to teach). It will be VERY part-time: 4 days a week, 3 hours a day. It will be a mixture of different teaching philosophies, including Montessori (which I wasn't familiar with, but will get to in a minute-- that's actually the whole point of this post). There will be one regular education teacher, two special education teachers (that's me!), one speech therapist, and one paraprofessional all dedicated solely to one class of 16 children (where no more than 4 will have disabilities). Oh, and the pay is triple what I made teaching diagnostic kindergarten for a district. Sounds pretty dreamy, right?

Well, I still wasn't sold. I would have to leave my baby. It almost made me sick thinking about it. But I knew that it could be an incredible opportunity that I might not want to pass up. And I knew how much we could use the money, and I knew how much it would take the pressure off of my incredibly hard-working husband (working two jobs-- one that starts at 3:30 AM-- and going to school is A LOT). My mom immediately offered to watch Baby G. She said it would be silly of me to not at least consider the opportunity, adding that she would have "so much fun" taking care of my baby for a couple of hours a day. J looked at his school schedule and realized that he would be able to be with Baby G until 10:00 AM every day, so that my mom would just have him until I got done at 11:45 AM. Things were falling into place.

So I prayed and prayed. I wanted to take the job because I knew that it really might be the best thing for our family. But I also didn't want to take it and then end up resentful and hating going to work every day. So I prayed, determined to do whatever the Lord instructed me. I felt frustrated though, because I wasn't really getting any instructions. I finally asked for a priesthood blessing so I could get a little clarity. In the blessing, the answer came to me: there wasn't a bad choice. I could do either (stay home with Baby G, or leave to work for a couple of hours), and both choices would be acceptable to the Lord. So I made my decision: I was going to sacrifice what I wanted (staying home, free to do whatever I please whenever I please-- seriously, it really is the life), for what I felt was perhaps a little bit better for my family in the long run (taking some of the pressure off of J, adding some income), and what might end up being an incredible personal learning & growing opportunity for me.

But I still felt uneasy. I was required to attend a week-long training to become certified in the Montessori teaching philosophy. Up until the moment I got to the training I questioned my decision and wondered if I was doing the right thing. I hated the uncertainty I was feeling. Leaving my baby with my mom for that first morning of training was hard. When I introduced myself to everyone at the training I started to cry and had to embarrassingly explain that that was the first time in his life that I hadn't been with my boy all day. The other people in the room seemed to understand. As the other women introduced themselves a feeling of peace and calm came over me. I had the feeling that I was in the right place.

That week-long training was hard (8:00 AM-5:00 PM, more homework and reading each day than I had daily in college, not enough time to get it all done because now I have a one-year-old who doesn't like to be ignored, and the stresses of not being with Baby G all day), but I can honestly say that it changed my life. I know that I was supposed to be there. It has changed the way that I will teach, and has also changed some of the ways that I will mother. It felt good to be back in the educational groove again, and it recommitted me to being a lifelong learner. My education did not stop just because I got my degree. I needed that reminder. So, let me tell you about some of the things I learned and some of the ways my thought patterns shifted.

But let me do it in another post. This is getting mighty long already. Perhaps later today, but most likely tomorrow. Unless this is boring (which it very may well be, and that won't hurt my feelings, honest)-- let me know if you would like me to share more because if no one cares I won't waste my time typing it all out (I already have many of my thoughts recorded for myself in a journal).

16 comments:

Lucy, Marc and Katie said...

I am curious!

Lemme said...

i really wanna know! keep 'em comin'!!

Kevin, Danica, & Claire said...

what a blessing that we don't have to make such huge decisions on our own. i am very interested in hearing more about it! sounds like an amazing opportunity.

Engrained Emotions said...

I love to read your stories, please share what you have learned, after all you just told us you've decided to teach again!

Debbie

B. B. said...

I'm excited for you! It sounds like a great opportunity and I'm sure both you and baby will benefit from what your experience.

Brooke said...

I'm curious to hear a about everything too.

Ani said...

tell me more...!

Natalie J. said...

I would love to hear more! That sounnds like an awesome thing! only three hours a day you can not beat that! It will be so fulfilling I know it!

GregR said...

I know you'll do the right thing even if it is hard. When you make decisions like this that include your priorities, the Lord helps you to prioritize and you will.

CG said...

As a parent of a special needs child, I am glad mothers like you can sacrifice to be there for children like mine.

em&m said...

I'd love to know more.

Thistlerose said...

yay ls! you inspire me.

the mama monster said...

liz- please keep going i am really interested in the montessori way.

Teacher Mama said...

More please. Please post on your new bedroom too.

Teacher Mama said...

Yes, I filled up several bags with my husband's junk while he was at work today. Many of my items were the stupid movies he insists on buying. Also, lots of Logan's clothes and a few of mine.

Rachel said...

Liz, I love these ideas! I think our culture just accepts the traditional school system because it doesn't occur to anyone that there could be a much, much better way. Can you tell some practical ways that teachers apply these principles? It sounds so cool and I'm excited for you and your new job! I really think you will have the best of both worlds. You are straight up blessed.