Ms. Dare is a new assistant guide in the Children’s House classroom at Brushy Creek in Texas. In January, she will begin her Montessori training and intends to document her learning journey with us. Here, learn about Dare’s role as an Assistant Guide for Guidepost Montessori.
After my first classroom observation at Guidepost Montessori, I had a conversation with my Lead Guide, who highlighted the most important tasks an Assistant Guide needs to focus on. Assistant Guides must keep the environment in order, which allows children and the Lead to succeed. Assistant Guides must also protect the lesson so that when a lesson is being presented by a Lead to a child, Assistant Guides help by steering children and other interruptions away for the length of that lesson.
My Lead ended with something that every Guide keeps at the top of the list of importance: The safety of the child. “There could be a day where we get nothing accomplished, where things keep going wrong, but as long as the safety of the children are intact, that is all that matters.”
As Guides, we have overarching goals, such as the safety of the children and keeping an organized environment, that leads to a long list of things that need to be accomplished each day. There are dishes to wash, accidents needing to be cleaned and sanitized, materials to be replaced, snacks to prepare, and at every moment there is a child waiting to interrupt. These often lead to the most wonderful moments of excitement and exploration.
In my favorite “excite-erruption,” a child in the classroom was trying to teach himself how to tie his shoes. For weeks, he would sit on the floor and attempt the task of tying his shoe, and for weeks it led to frustration. I was on my way to bring a child some paints when he asked for my help. I sat down on the ground next to him, showing him again how to tie his shoe, and waiting patiently as he attempted it again, and again, and again. I showed him again, with a slight adjustment, and then there it was. He did it, by himself. He untied his shoes and did it again. He looked at me, tears of frustration still in his eyes but now with a huge smile. “I did it!”
Another task that Assistant Guides are expected to complete is keeping the environment in order. This can include making sure the materials are presented correctly, keeping the environment clean, preparing snacks, and doing laundry. There is always something needing to be done for the environment and, at the same time, there is always children who need your attention. Much of the material in the classroom is geared toward cleaning, at both a size and shape that is optimal for small children. Brooms, dustpans, an entire basin full of materials to clean tables, an area to hand launder towels. It was not until my Lead said, “The environment is in the care of the children,” that it dawned on me.
I am here to help make sure the environment works and is safe (both at the physical level and the microscopic level), however the children are supposed to provide the cleaning and care of the classroom. When I bring the laundry back from the dryer, the children have the responsibility to fold and put away the towels. After lunch is over, the children clean their own dishes, clean their placemats, the table, and the floor. Just like that, my job became so much easier. I was still cleaning the environment and keeping it in order, but I did not have to rush to every spill or mess. I now knew the children would help me to take care of our environment together.