A Peek Into the Future: Making a Long-range Difference for Your Students

“…we must know how to call to the man which lies dormant within the soul of the child.”

Maria Montessori,
The Advanced Montessori Method,
previously Spontaneous Activity in Education

This one’s for you, new teachers…maybe just a year or two into your teaching career. It’s for anyone who wonders if they are making a difference or having an impact on the little students in your care.

As you plan for your class, getting excited for the coming year, I’m hoping this story will inspire you with a glimpse into your possible future. You’ll even find a couple of prints with that quote to frame up and place on a shelf or wall where you’ll see it. Maybe even where the students can see it and imagine their future selves…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Imagine receiving this unexpected text:

Happy holidays Claudia, XXXXX and I were just sitting here talking and she said how she misses the Big Bang lesson that you and Doug used to give.  She gave me a whole recap of it, I thought you would like to hear that.  Also she got into XXXXXXX college. She wants to major in Chemistry with a geology focus.  I would say you and Doug rubbed off on her!  Love to all!

We had to know more.

This is what we heard back from our former student:

As I am sure you have heard, I was accepted into xxxxxxxxx. I am overjoyed and have already confirmed my enrollment. I plan to major in Chemistry and minor in Astronomy. At xxxxxxx, you can major in general chemistry as well as chemistry with specific focuses/applications. I am torn between chemistry with an environmental focus and chemistry with a geological focus. Chemistry with an environmental focus means that you take a mix of general chemistry classes and organic chem classes. In the major, you learn how to use chemistry to address environmental issues, and to understand interactions between natural and ecological systems at a molecular level. As a chem-geo major, you take general chem classes and geo classes. You can learn more about what I could do as a chem-geo major here: (our student
included a link since she knows us!)

I have always known that I would pursue a science degree, but it was not until junior year of high school, when I took a chemistry class, that I knew I would have to do something with chemistry. I love chemistry because it is the language of our universe. We can use chemistry to break (almost) every piece of matter down into its smallest unit. Junior year I also took an environmental science class with a local college and loved learning about environmental systems and issues. As for geology, I am an avid crystal and mineral collector and I attribute this to yours and Claudia’s fossil and mineral case in the Montessori school. I love collecting all types of minerals and crystals and learning about their chemical makeup. My personal favorite type of crystal to collect is quartz, specifically inclusion quartz. I love that because of the abundance of quartz, it often forms with other minerals or chemical impurities that change its appearance. I love to use chemistry to try to figure out the potential pressure, heat, or other conditions that would have to be present to allow for the formation of a certain stone. 

The reason I plan on minoring in Astronomy is simply that I find it interesting and not because I plan on finding a job where it would be applicable. Let me know if you and Claudia have further questions. I have one question for you both, do you still collect fossils and minerals? 

Merry Christmas!

Now that was a thrill!

That’s the kind of note that would make any teacher swoon! But a few months later, I saw this photo on Instagram. Our student’s been making jewelry with those beloved crystals. When we spoke recently, I learned that they had apprenticed with a lapidarist learning to make cabochons.

Sharing the joy!

This week I’ll be sharing a presentation entitled, “Balancing Interests with Standards and Expectations.” I love sharing stories like this one to illustrate my commitment to Montessori classroom design that includes freedom to explore and develop individual passions. When students get to pursue their dreams, they naturally develop the skills to keep going. Our job as guides is to keep providing the tools, keep striving for development, and always continue encouraging our students to follow their hearts.

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