Vocation or Job?
Lara Jacobs is gifted. She is a wealth of experience, and always happy to share her observations, thoughts, or a helpful hint. She’s also always learning. She lives and breathes Montessori, and shared these thoughts about the internal preparation we do in order to be the most present to the children.
We loved her words so much, we also recorded a podcast with her! Scroll to the bottom to listen.
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I was at a retreat recently and the speaker mentioned that some teachers think of their work as a job while others as a vocation. She then went on to say that she was fortunate enough to have these “vocation” teachers for her own children. It made me wonder if this “vocation” approach to teaching was what Maria Montessori meant when she referred to the spiritual preparation of the teacher. So I looked up vocation in the dictionary: a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.
“Dr. Montessori felt that the adult needed to be prepared physically, mentally and spiritually, to work with children.”
Dr. Montessori felt that the adult needed to be prepared physically, mentally and spiritually, to work with children. She deemed this spiritual, or character, development, far more important than the others. The adult needs to truly understand children, to be able to observe keenly, knowing when to intervene and when to stand back silently yet still be in awe of teach child’s development and abilities. The adult also needs to be the epitome of grace and courtesy so that the children have a role model to follow.
Confession time. There are plenty of days when I feel neither graceful nor courteous. I might have had an argument that morning or maybe I didn’t sleep well and I’m cranky. Either way, it’s my job to leave those emotions at the front door of the school and adjust my outlook to one of joy and enthusiasm. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful, but if I remind myself that those children under my care deserve my best, then the effort is always worthwhile!
As a Montessori teacher, I need to provide the best possible environment for these children so that their needs are met and their learning comes naturally while they are still absorbing information easily. And I need to do this each and every day, not only on days when I feel like it. It takes a conscious effort to remain upbeat, joyful and patient each day. But the positive effects this has not only in each individual child but also for the class is undeniable.
“It takes a conscious effort to remain upbeat, joyful and patient each day.”
Every Montessori teacher wants a normalized class, a class of children who freely and joyfully choose their own materials, concentrate deeply and work as a peaceful community. This normalization develops slowly through the love, guidance, and example of the adults in the room.
As an example, I have long legs and I naturally walk fast. I know this because plenty of people with shorter legs and/or slower gaits have told me. So when walking across the classroom, I have to consciously walk slowly and gracefully. And if I forget? The children remind be by running or walking too fast. I understand that it is not the children who are at fault, but rather it is the example that I am offering them. I need to be a role model for them just as I need to be calm and peaceful so that they too can be calm and peaceful.
“I need to be a role model for them just as I need to be calm and peaceful so that they too can be calm and peaceful.”
If I want the children in my care to be enthusiastic about coming to school each day, then I need to be enthusiastic and excited to come to work each and every day. If I want to help improve my country and world, then I need set aside any frustrations or negative attitudes and joyfully guide these precious children. For they will guide our future.
Sounds like a vocation, not a job, doesn’t it?
Learn more about Mrs. Jacobs here!
Written by:Charlotte Wood