I've been teaching Montessori for 20 years now. This year, I don't know what it is about it, but I feel like I've strayed. Gradually, but wildly. Maybe it's this point, after the scrambling of the years of Covid. I don't know. I just revisited the beginning of this blog and saw photos of our beautiful young school, and read some of the enthusiastic early posts, and it gave me a sense that I need to Mary Kondo the whole building- on a week with no school take every single thing out of every closet and corner, and decide if it still belongs. I'm no hoarder but 20 years of accumulating stuff...
But not just Mary Kondo the closets, Mary Kondo myself too. Take out all the parts of myself, put them out on the sidewalk, the habits, the beliefs, the mannerisms, and then inspect each one and decide what is worthy of keeping. I feel like re-taking my whole AMI training. A need to touch base with the core. To get back to the beginning.
And then I think, have I really lost touch with the core?
Where do 20 years of experience take you? Away from the core or closer to the center?
Why is it the most difficult to measure progress, to acknowledge all that has gone well, to celebrate longevity, and so easy to see all the places that require more work?
Given that I am clearly in a constant state of self doubt, what keeps me going at work like this for 20 years?
What are the main sources of encouragement on this long road?
One thing is the philosophy. It is so deep and inspiring. And part of what I mean when I say to Mary Kondo the whole school including myself is that I'd like to spend a week just also rereading all of Montessori's writing which is a flame when the lights are getting dim around me. It works every time. So at this time I am reminded to keep one of her books on hand, even if I manage only a paragraph at night before falling asleep. To rest in Montessori's vision.
In some ways every school is an island, and in our case, our island is almost like a remote desert island with only 3 teachers in it. But there is still a feeling of community. The community of extended Montessori teachers here, especially my friends who are Montessori teachers, especially my friends who studied Montessori with me 23 years ago, when I meet with any of these people I am invigorated and inspired. I am reminded of making time to connect with them, as a root source of encouragement.
To write as a source of processing has been a help too. I could see it when I was going back to the early days of this blog, now 17 years ago. I am reminded to write, for myself mostly, and to put it out here in case it is remotely helpful to anyone else.
So, clean the closets, yes,
re read the albums, yes,
get in touch with the philosophy, yes,
it's not a competition,
it's not a race,
there's no report card,
but it IS a marathon,
and one in which a mind that understands that the road is long and meandering and beautiful and terrifying and exhausting and renewing will serve much better than one which is fixated too intently on to do lists.