Observation: The Path to Normalization

Q: We seem to have an increasing number of children in our primary classroom who seem to be unable to
settle into work and focus. They run around the room or disrupt those who are tying to work. What can we
do to get them to calm down?
A: This is a big question! And you are not alone. This seems to be a more and more common situation in
Montessori classrooms.
There is no one answer and no one thing you can do that will solve this for all children. But as a Montessori
educator, you understand the importance of observation- so that is a great place to start. We know that
observation can help us prepare the environment- in the class and on the playground, it can help us understand
the strengths and challenges for the children who are struggling the most and can be our guide for the social
and emotional support we provide for all students.
Set aside a time to really engage in “inquiry observation.” Let the children, and the other adult in your
classroom, know that you are going to be doing the important work of observing and will not be giving lessons
or talking with anyone during this time (at least 20 minutes). Make it your goal to follow through with noting
your observations, who is working, what is being worked with, try to pinpoint the specific behaviors you see
that are troublesome. Mentally, and even physically, step back and take a long, non-judgmental look. Your task
is to gather information so maybe even begin by determining 3 questions you want to answer and really focus
on those.
At a time when you aren’t with children, reflect on your observations. What did you see, hear, experience
during that focused time? What might these observations tell you- about your classroom, about specific
children, and how you and your co-adult respond? What does this analysis tell you about changes you might
Just a tiny first step- but one that is crucial before you can reach your goal of a calmer classroom.

Christine Lowry, M.Ed.