Montessori! Montessori! Montessori


It’s been more than a year since I posted. And I was only posting sporadically before that. I am unsure what I want to do here. Maybe blogging is over? Maybe no one reads blogs anymore. Or maybe the small set of people who may at one time have been interested in what I would write and post are no longer interested. Who knows? I still make blog entries in my head from time to time. And I miss blogging, at least a little. Maybe more of those in my head things will come to the page.

I had to go into the admin module to upgrade WordPress which was so outdated it was like a magnet calling out for someone to hack the site. And that would have made me grumpy. Instead the upgrade was so easy and now I’m already in the control panel and it totally makes sense for me to type something and post it!

Life’s satisfying. Good things happen to me on a regular basis. This summer has been a spectacular time off, after three summers spent working far too hard at getting my AMI elementary certification. First summer off in three years and how I am cherishing it! I have not gotten accomplished everything I would wish to (of course) but I have done quite a few things that had been waiting to be done for a long time. Nothing earth shattering, just worthwhile. Such as finally getting the bedroom to be the secluded, refreshing, neat place I want it to be. I went to a free class and made a necklace! I took apart a three cube and spent lots of hours trying find 7mm glass beads (without success, any ideas?). The internet gave me a lesson on making onigiri and I may just turn into a person who makes themselves bento lunches. Got shelving in the front closet and now it’s all neat and organized and stuff fits in there.

Things I’m not currently doing:

  • keeping up with my reader feed
  • yoga
  • writing or editing or submitting stuff I’ve written (I wrote zero new stories so far in 2012, and I think I wrote zero in 2011).
  • cutting my hair
  • clearing up enough space on my hard drive – which is too full – or catching up appropriately on podcasts
  • taking on stress
  • making that t-shirt quilt I’m going to make someday

Things I am currently doing:

And how are you?

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Hey, look there, will you? After like a year and a half of co-editing PodCastle, I’ve finally narrated a story! It’s Maria Deira’s excellent “The Giant Malheur Park“. Amusing fact: I wrote the author to ask how to pronounce Malheur (and a good thing because my instinct was dead wrong, not MaLOOR at all) and she helpfully provided a pronunciation for her surname, Deira, in the return email. Which I think I more or less had covered, but how was she to know? Author Maria Deira wrote one of my all time favorite stories on Pseudopod: Regis St. George. That one is masterfully read by Mur Lafferty, who now edits EscapePod. I know, small world, right? PodCastle’s got some great stories in store for the summer. I can’t wait until you get to hear them!

Also, next week begins the last summer of my Montessori training. Wish me luck! I expect to be crazy busy for the next nine weeks or so and I’ll be taking both written and oral exams and handing in lots and lots of charts and album work.

Also, also, I’ve started on this new hobby, called Zentangle. I bought the first book at ArtMart (aka that store where I spend too much money) and started doing them last week. I love this work, and I can’t wait to give lessons on it to my kids. I think this may be my elementary level walking the line or handwashing. One of the things I really like about it is it provides lots of ideas for patterns which can be used to embellish work. And also a method for coming up with your own patterns to use. Yay!

Ok, I’m off to eat at the Everest Cafe, which I’ve heard a lot about but never eaten at. Then over to paint charts with one of my classmates. Life is good. Look after yourselves.

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I shopped at Target today for the first time in almost a year. I’m bummed about that, but I only spent ten dollars and it’s not like I’m going to be shopping there regularly.

I’m flying in November and I’m bummed about that too, but my choices are limited. Of more concern to me is how I’m probably going to put my kid on a plane in two weeks, flying alone, and I really, really don’t want her going through the backscatter machine (not so much because of the nakedness but because of the radiation, though obviously the nakedness business is not so wonderful either) and I’m worried about her opting out and being manhandled. I’m taking advice, information, anecdotes and all else on that, if you’d care to leave some in comments.

I’m on the eve of finishing up my first year of teaching. It’s been a crazy ride, ninety eight percent wonderful and maybe the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. The children, the method, the environment I’m fortunate enough to be in…it’s all beyond anything I could have dreamed up for myself. I feel about it the way I sometimes feel about Sophia: like I can’t say anything because I’m too fortunate and it’s not fair to anyone else because so many people have children with problems or children they wish were different or children living with terrible traumas. Just so, my job is great, and the world is full of people in horrible jobs that are grinding them down little by little and also full of people who can’t even get jobs and really want them and it just doesn’t seem right to go on and on about my happy, idyllic, peaceful, Montessori classroom (or my happy, smart Montessori child). I feel like I’m skating the meniscus of perfection and that shouldn’t be possible, right? Some other shoe has to be waiting to drop, right? Narrative law says so. I just know that in all the ways it counts (sense of purpose, love of life, general contentment and daily challenges that uplift instead of knocking down) I’m in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

So I’m not sorry I gave up on writing. I am sorry in the sense that giving up is lame, lame, lame. I acknowledge that. And I didn’t give up in the sense that I’ll never write anything again. I still have this novel and a few short stories hanging around, coming into my mind on my daily commute. So I still want to write, but I’m not sorry I stopped doing it for a while to teach. Besides, I get to tell stories any day I want to. You should hear my story about papyrus, or the one about Henry Hudson, or the one on the peace crane. You should have seen the look in the child’s eyes this week when I gave her the lesson on storywriting. Three sentences long, but if only you could see her look of wonder. First, I wrote: “I went to the beach. I built sandcastles and played in the waves.” Then I said, “Now, when you are writing a story, you may write anything true. Anything that happened to you or that you want to write about. Or…you can make something up.” Then I add the last sentence: “At night, I heard mermaids sing.” I don’t know what it feels like to have a big publication credit or to sell a book, but I’m betting it feels like when that child reads that sentence and her eyes lit up like the whole planet just unwound before her, full of possibilities. “Which of these sentences did I make up?” The one about the mermaids. Yes. That one. I made it up. And so can you.

Oh, and the real reason I started this post? Trader Joe’s stopped making cashews and hibiscus and I loved them SO much. This is my perennial problem with Trader Joe’s. They make something I love, then stop.

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I’m in the midst of my summer training. My brain is full of Montessori lessons. I can’t wait to share some of these with my students in the fall. I love the clarity of the math lessons. I don’t love how slowly we go through them, however. I’m dying to get some lessons, like the geometry stick box! But I must wait. Right now, we’re doing multiplication of fractions and I’m abusing the internet at the local school where my lessons are being given so I can post. We’ve gone over each problem twice, you see, and at this point my attention span only lasts one iteration.

The workload is pretty enormous. Don’t be deceived by the fact that I’m posting that this is a cakewalk, but I can’t reliably work on my homework while in lecture, whereas I can post. And I don’t want to abandon you, loyal reader, for months at a time again.

So what would you like to hear about? Feel free to leave a comment on what you’d like me to address over the summer, in the snatches during class where I must type.

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Hello, friends!

It’s been too long, hasn’t it?

The operative mode of my life right now is busy. I want to let everyone know, however, that I’m getting my own classroom in the fall! It will be a tiny classroom, far from the ideal number of students for a Montessori elementary, but we expect it to grow in time, and personally, I’m so incredibly excited about it that I cannot describe how I feel. Euphoric, maybe? Grinning like a damn fool? Eager, pleased, jingling with joy? All of that.

The other day I gave a group lesson for the first time. — Explanatory note for the non-Montessorians among you: at the primary (3-6 years) level, children are given individual lessons, at the elementary (6-12 years) level children are given all their lessons in small groups instead — The students loved it, and they started working with the material immediately, and worked with it for days straight. It was great! Love those materials, love seeing the kids work with them. On Friday, a student actually asked me if she could please also have a spelling test, like the other student whom I give spelling tests to. Yes. She ASKED for a spelling test. Children (and people, really, but that’s another discussion) want to learn and want to be challenged. I see it every day. I love it.

The first of the six changes went off without a hitch (that was walking Sergei regularly, using the trigger of when I get home from work), but then I didn’t start in on my second change, because I didn’t know how to break it down into baby steps so easy I couldn’t fail. More on that when I figure out what to do next. Anyway, if I only end up with five changes this year instead of six, I will still feel quite accomplished. I’m still walking Sergei every school day but Thursday (because yoooooga makes walking him complicated), even when it’s miserably cold, or miserably raining, or miserably sunny. It has not actually been miserably sunny much, or at all.

The editing gig is working wonderfully. I’m gratified to see some of my and Dave’s story picks making it out into the world to be heard and commented on by listeners, because the lead time on story selection and production is a lot longer than I would have imagined before I started running the podcast, so even though we’ve been working since January to make sure the podcast comes out as it should, not much of what has come out thus far is stuff we picked out on our own (also there was Ann Leckie month in February, which was awesome. You need to check out Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz go to War Again by Garth Nix to see what I mean). I’m excited about what we have selected and in store, and excited that we’ve picked several stories where narrators, when asked, have responded gushingly with “I love that story!” Narrator, we love that story, too!

So that’s me in a nutshell. How about you?

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I took the dog out again today!

Have I mentioned that I’m the playground lady at school? Yeah, how weird is that? And it’s Montessori, so there’s all that connectedness to nature focus, which means we go out every day without fail.

For two days I have driven over the Missouri, amazed at the huge blocks of ice floating in the dark murk of the river. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything quite like it, that half clogged with ice river, its frozen patches floating up white and slowly drifting, supported by the muddy flow, deeper and shadowed. It’s quite a contrast, lovely to behold, and I have to remember that I’m going 70 over the bridge and need to pay attention because the sight of the river draws my eye.

Also, every day I watch the oncoming traffic, crawling or sometimes stopped, and I think the person who told me that it wasn’t so much of an advantage driving against traffic was out of her mind.

There’s this cute kid (heh, that’s not really identifying, they’re all cute in their own way) but she’s new and she’s totally into the Montessori thing. Some kids just seem to fall right into the paradigm, they just get it on a deep fundamental level. Others have to be coaxed a little more, but this one kid, she gets it, and I wouldn’t even think she’s new except for: they told me she was new to the classroom, and after each cycle of activity she comes up to me and says, “What can I play now?” Should I tell her she’s actually working, not playing? Naaaaaah.

Oh, only one toilet accident today, and that was an older kid, so I could just tell her to go clean up, get her spare clothes out of her cubby and change. So that’s about as hassle free as it’s possible to get.

I’m really tired. Is it too early to go to bed?

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Took the dog out again today. Thought about how nice it was that I wasn’t going on a twenty minute walk with him. Believe that’s probably not in the spirit of forming a habit. Just realized that I’ll be gone on Friday and won’t be able to take him out then.

Down to two toilet related accidents today at work, even though I made every effort to put the child who had both accidents on the toilet. And he went! But then, as happens, he had to go again and didn’t make it. Twice. In four hours. At least it was all urine and no excrement today.

Wow. I really hope this blog doesn’t turn into a litany of the eliminatory antics of a bunch of three year olds. Let’s hope I’ll have not much to say in this regard in the future!

Tomorrow, I’m on my own, without the prior assistant, who is going on to her own job now.

Also, amazed at how the properly prepared environment invites the children to work. I know, that’s straight party line Montessori, but it’s just that it happens over and over and over again in the classroom and it never stops being cool.

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I took the dog out, even though it’s very, very cold.

There were five separate toilet accidents today at work. Granted, one was a repeat customer, but still. Also, it was not actually my job to clean up after the children who had these accidents, but that’s only because the prior assistant was still there today, and I was just supposed to observe, as part of my training. They promise me it is not like this every day.

I am not joking when I say bodily functions is one reason I prefer elementary children.

And I don’t find scatological humor really works for me usually, but there is something funny about the endless river of poop today, my FIRST day. One could make all sorts of jokes about it.

Also, cute kids! CUUUUUUTE!

Tomorrow, I am supposed to shadow the prior assistant. Toilet issues not my sole responsibility until Wednesday. Wish me luck. Send gloves and wipes.

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