Meet Middle School Teacher Marsha Fleming
How has Montessori shaped your understanding of children? My Montessori training did not change who I am, but it sure did change how I am. Until I became a Montessori mom and later a Montessori teacher, my treatment of students was more clinical. Montessori education taught me that every child has an internal compass that helps direct him in his life. As a teacher, I get to come along beside young adolescents and show them new ways of thinking about things, more sophisticated processes for problem-solving, and a whole bunch of cool things they never knew before; what a privilege!
What one thing distinguishes your teaching style? I use a combination of humor and compassion to impart a feeling of safety to my students. Research shows that students learn better when they feel safe and remember more when they are in a positive emotional place. We all get math problems wrong from time to time, so I work to normalize this as part of the process of learning.
What is one thing that you think defines you as a person? Acting in the face of my own fear has been part of my life since childhood. I grew up in abject poverty. Life often seemed precarious, and school was a safe place to be, so I flourished there. I applied to one college. Troy University accepted me as a student and gave me a full-tuition scholarship. On move-in day, some friends took me and my meager belongings to the university; I had $14. My friends offered to buy my textbooks; I didn’t even know that purchasing textbooks was a thing. In spite of so much unknown, I quickly found a job and figured things out. I decided that fear or uncertainty was not going to hinder me from stepping out into the world to see what it had to offer.