Maria Montessori, the famous Italian educator, called the process of helping a child successfully adjust to a new class and be open to new learning “normalization.” This word, normalization, helps us understand that the process of feeling “normal,” or comfortable in a new environment, isn’t automatic or necessarily easy. Picture yourself starting a new job and how hyperaware you might be of the people around you as you try to learn their expectations and acclimate to a new physical environment and group culture.
White Pony and Meher School teachers pour tremendous energy into this normalization process. They want to tenderly create relationships with students, and also with their parents, caregivers, and family members. Our vision is that that our whole community is learning to work together to create a vibrant web of loving connectivity. One of our school songs, “Learning to Work Together,” expresses the essence and scope of our intentions: “We are building more than a home, we are building a living school. We are building a brand-new world, and our lives are the tools.”
Learning to work together is really the foundation of all we do. As new families come to the school and continuing students move to new classrooms, we want everyone to feel welcome, equally at home, and involved. Toward that end, we might all – parents and teaches – reflect on the energy, commitment, and trust it takes to build relationships.
Since teachers are focused on the child’s well-being and happiness in the classroom, they want to know anything that might cause ripples in that process. Teachers have no way of knowing if a child’s bad mood or acting out is because of lack of sleep or an argument on the way to school. They depend on you, the parent, to give them the information they need to support your child. They will ask questions that help them understand what a child is experiencing.
If parents empathize with the hypersensitivity and effort it takes for teachers to tune into each of their students, they can more easily understand how important it is to share the information that they are traveling, their house is being renovated, or they have out-of-town visitors. Sometimes parents are stressed by an impending event they don’t want to share yet with their children, but teachers benefit from knowing or at least hearing about a possible change.
Teachers want to be empathic with parents too – the pressures of their jobs, the wondering about new patterns in their child’s development. They are committed to hearing parents’ concerns and communicating with them in kind, mutually supportive ways. It we stay awake to the fact that we are all involved in a vibrant learning process together, we can try to consciously make our image of a “living school” an everyday reality.