Organized Chaos

By Nellie Sun

Organized Chaos - that's how Ms. Zopfi likes to describe her Lower El Class, which is one of the many combined first to third grade classes at Watts Elementary. Embodying the independence and choice that a Montessori education fosters, students complete thematic educational tasks at their own skill level and pace. Students learn to become leaders and caring friends both inside and outside of the classroom.

Despite being an outsider to the concept of a Montessori education at the beginning of this project, Ms. Zopfi and the friends in her class never made me feel like one. I am incredibly grateful for both Ms. Zopfi and the students in her class who let me document their classroom work and friendships. Whenever the students see something that sparks their curiosity, their first instinct is to share with each other. During those inevitable times when a student is stuck on a difficult concept, a "neighbour" will be there to provide genuine help. Ms. Zopfi's meticulous planning of the curriculum and her tailoring of it for individual students makes her an exemplary teacher. All of this is what makes Ms. Zopfi's Lower El Class so inspiring.