The Normalized Classroom
The beginning of the school year can be compared to giant waves crashing into the seashore.
A third of the class is new to the classroom. There may be a few children who cry as they learn to separate from their mom for the first time. While others are not quite sure what to think and run around the room waiting for direction. Meanwhile, the returning students are so happy to see each other that they become social butterflies moving about the room in flutters.
The children are adapting to new routines, new ground rules, and new faces. There is a lot to take in for these little minds.
We, as teachers, know that this will soon pass. We wait. And then, we wait some more…we continue to give lessons, continue to guide children to developmentally appropriate work, and most importantly, we observe the giant wave crashing around us as we take notes of things to change in the environment or work we think may be beneficial to add to the shelf in order to increase concentration.
Weeks go by and all of a sudden, around the second month of school, we realize everything has changed. The waters have become calm and peaceful, and there is a gentle hum about the room. Montessori classrooms around the world experience this phenomenon that Maria Montessori calls “normalization.“
In The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori said, “Normalization is the single most important result of our work.”
Children build the foundations of character and personality that are necessary for normalization by following a three-period work cycle, which consists of preparing their work, concentration, and the satisfaction one experiences upon completion. As children learn to effectively complete the work cycle, they progress through the three stages of normalization.
Each stage builds on the one before it, as they slowly master the skills of concentration, love of work, self-discipline and sociability.
When normalization happens, the children are now working as if the teacher doesn’t exist. Maria Montessori calls normalization the greatest sign of success for a teacher. It’s a moment where the environment that we spent months preparing for these little minds becomes a perfect match for every child.
When children are allowed freedom in an environment suited to their needs, they blossom. The environment is set up every day, allowing the children to freely choose work, concentrate, and work happily on their own as members of a respectful, peaceful community. I encourage all of you to come observe this phenomenon today!
Amy Wagner has been a Children’s House teacher at West Side Montessori’s Toledo campus since 2009. Amy earned her Montessori Certification by AMS at Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center for Early Childhood Education and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Loyola University of Chicago. Amy loves that a Montessori education invites every child into engaging their full potential emotionally, physically and spiritually.
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.