The Power in the Imperfect (Upper Elementary Life)


I love a good picture that nicely sums up little snippets of perfect moments that occur daily in our classroom. Students helping each other, field trips, and beautiful works done with care. Pictures help demonstrate Montessori in action and how seamless it can appear. I had a moment over break where my house was a complete wreck, my toddler was beating ornaments off the Christmas tree with a tent pole, and I wondered if anyone else was feeling a little less than perfect about how life gets a little messy and not exactly photo/Instagram/Facebook worthy. I should also mention this thought was mirrored in a friend’s post about how photos on Facebook typically show what appears to be perfect holidays, healthy children, and clean houses. I then ran across a talk about authenticity and how deep down, everyone is craving it. We all sorta need to know that not everyone is perfect. I often experience that among parents when they have a bit of anxiety when they realize I am a Montessori teacher. They think that I know what it means to be perfect or “so Montessori” and that I may be secretly judging them. I am here to tell you, I am just as scared of parents judging me as a teacher as you are of me judging you as a parent. It definitely goes both ways. That is why we post the perfect classroom moments, we want it all to seem to be perfect so we are not judged for imperfection. It is about first impressions for sure but it’s not always the truth. The 9-12 classroom is typically a wreck. The 9-12 brain is internally very organized but externally they can be running around looking for a pencil that they have in their hand.


. There are wrappers on the floor that Not Mine has left behind. Coats fall off the hooks, shoes litter the floor, and they step on works and books all the time. At the end of the day, we do clean up and remind Not Mine that “it” is actually his. We take responsibility for our mess. I think that is the most important point. In order for healthy learning to occur, imperfection has to be ok. It happens in their work. We need them to know it’s ok to be wrong and it’s more about trying and taking responsibility than being perfect. It’s glorious really. It feels like breathing, in and out all day long. Expanding and contracting, finding boundaries then bringing it back in to appreciate something well done.


Over the break I assigned students to interview a family member for Story Corp, a story telling app that archives people’s relationships to one another. Relationships are super messy with heart crushing love and imperfection and you could hear that in each interview. I will tell you I cried listening to every single one because you could hear so much love between the children and the adults they interviewed. I heard maturity and mutual respect, I heard pride and curiosity, I heard recordings cut short due to technological difficulties but that’s ok-everyone made time to be curious about loved ones and learning that they once were children and not perfect. A practical life lesson for sure.

I will conclude by saying it is Friday, I am writing this during lunch time and my classroom is a wreck. I am pretty proud of our wreck though. We’ll clean it up and start again on Monday being ok with our perfectly perfect imperfections. It’s beautiful and real and feels like home.


So, now that I have outed ourselves as imperfect, please feel ridiculously fine and have a beautiful, messy, imperfect, fun weekend!