After being in the Montessori environment as an educator but even more so as an adult student for the last 10 years, I have grown to have a deep gratitude and sense of respect for the classroom, the students and the materials that make Montessori what it is. Today, I am going to share with you what has made Montessori different for my students, my family, and me. There is an essence about Montessori that sometimes, at first glance, it is difficult to really get a pulse on. It takes observation and a slower pace to be present and recognize. When you first enter the classroom, you may notice children moving freely throughout, which may look unstructured and chaotic. As you take time to notice, you will see children choosing works off the shelf as they please and as their minds whisper to their little bodies, subconsciously, prompting them to learn as individually as their all were designed. The Head Teacher will be doing one of two things, either working one on one or in small groups giving lessons or standing inconspicuously to the side or low to the ground taking observation notes on what each student is choosing, who they are working with, what works they have mastered, what works they may need another presentation with and taking note on what children seem to have entered various sensitive periods. The observation notes drive the lessons the Head Teacher gives, creating an incredibly individualized curriculum. The Head Teachers take the needed time during class, to slow down, reducing the urge to be the center of attention and the imparter of knowledge, to being more a facilitator of learning within a carefully prepared, rich environment, developmentally appropriate for all students within her classroom. The initial thought that the classroom may have a chaotic undertone may subside as you begin to see the underlying ground rules that the children are abiding by; using rugs on the floor for their works, or mats on the tables, both which define their personal space while working. The children use the peace rose to resolve their conflicts. They are using quiet, speaking voices and there is a working noise throughout the classroom. Walking feet are used rather than unsafe, running feet. Children are still children, there will still be a runner here or there, an outburst of noise, use of unkind hands or otherwise, but what the teachers have learned to do is hesitate a minute before stepping in to allow the other children a chance in the classroom to try to maintain control and order and defend their environment, persuading their friends to be successful participants and take responsibility for their own actions. The Montessori classroom is a safe place to make mistakes. It is a model for life. We aim to provide a rich space to learn, grow, develop and struggle, safely. The goal is to also educate the parents so the children can carry on at home with the same expectations and learning opportunities. As this goal is achieved, the essence of Montessori has carry over and the child has a fluid, consistent way to live and develop.