Last week I went to the annual Montessori Tea. The Tea is a chance for Montessorians to come together and celebrate two exceptional individuals in the Montessori community, and to celebrate the spirit of Maria Montessori through the teachers and leaders work. What is exceptional about this event is the acts of the community that happen during the Tea.
What would happen if we celebrated our success through our stories shared in a community of practice?
The Montessori Tea---which is a gathering where individuals come together to share tea in beautiful cups with desserts--- recognized two individuals from the community;
An individual who exemplifies the teaching and practice of Maria Montessori, someone who leads from example in the community, and an individual or small group who work for the greater good of the Montessori community, often in conjunction with leadership between Montessori and other systems
What makes the Montessori Tea such a testimony to community is the act of celebrating the stories of those who receive the award. Beyond the letter written and read for each award recipient, there exists a unique practice that I have never seen in another award celebration. After the recipient stands at the podium, in a room of their peers, individuals are asked to stand and tell stories of how the award recipient has made meaning in their own lives. The stories wash over the recipient as individuals stand in the audience and tell of their story, their connection, the value they have for this individual.
As individual after individual stands to bear witness about the impact the award recipient has on their lives and others, the community as a whole embraces their shared values.
I have been to most of the Montessori Teas over the last few years and every year, I see the community celebrate its collective vision. The Tea is a unique celebration of the individual that raises the whole community. It is an act of love that is witnessed by a great number of individuals for the work of the community, a value that we celebrate the best of ourselves, so that we may strive to be our best.
Each year, the Montessori Tea reminds me that our work, our strength comes from standing together and bearing witness to the work we do together. Our strength is in celebrating each other. It is our work to move away from comparing ourselves to each other. It is changing our thinking that were better than another program to help us validate our own work. We need to celebrate the act of common ground, reinforcing the best of our practices, to raise all ships.
How will you celebrate our communities of practice today?