Rise and Grind? Not for Montessorians!

Rise and Grind? Not for Montessorians!

Most people wake up everyday ready to “rise and shine,” as the old saying goes, but in the pressure cooker society that has developed, this phrase has taken on a whole new meaning and has quickly transformed into “rise and grind.” Grind culture is the idea that success is measured by the amount of time someone is “on and available.” It is the societal standard that individuals should exert maximum effort professionally.

Grind culture has led educators to believe that pouring one’s entire self into their classroom makes them a better teacher. It has brainwashed teachers into thinking there is a correlation between the amount of hours one works and their love of the job (or their students). These are toxic ideals that could not be farther from the truth. After all, how can someone pour from an empty glass? How can a teacher set a standard for a healthy work-life balance and encourage the importance of social and emotional well-being for their students if they are not modeling this for them on a daily basis?

Montessori guides and leaders are likely to view Montessori principles as a way to transcend into a meaningful way of life, which can often lead to an over-dedication to their work. However, when implementing a pedagogy that focuses on holistic development and prioritizes emotional well-being, grind culture should certainly not be the norm for Montessori faculty and staff.

What does grind culture look like in a Montessori setting?

For Montessori guides and administrators, grind culture includes the number of hours someone works, the frequency with which one checks their emails from colleagues or parents, and the ability to be reached at any time. Montessori guides and leaders living grind culture are often the first to arrive at the school and the last to leave; they work through their lunch break and often check their emails and do follow-up work from home. In a Montessori classroom, it may even be represented by the guide’s use of work plans and continual assignment of tasks for students even once they finish their initial works.

Why does grind culture not align with Montessori principles and values?

The Montessori philosophy places equal value on intellectual growth, spiritual development, and social-emotional well-being, both for children and for adults. In fact, Dr. Montessori described that, “The vision of the teacher should be at once precise like that of the scientist, and spiritual like that of the saint. The preparation for science and the preparation for sanctity should form a new soul, for the attitude of the teacher should be at once positive, scientific, and spiritual” (Montessori, 107). It seems impossible for one to be positive, scientific, and spiritual while simultaneously exerting maximum effort and remaining “on and available” at all times. After all, in order for one to place so much focus on professional ventures, they must ignore other activities outside of work which are likely to bring them joy and feed their soul, a practice with which Maria Montessori surely would not have been in agreement.

How can Montessorians avoid the pressure of grind culture?

In order to avoid the pressure of grind culture, it is essential that Montessori guides and leaders keep the heart of the pedagogy at the forefront of their practice, focusing not only on their professional success, but also on their spiritual needs and their social-emotional well-being.

Montessorians should prioritize self-care over burnout. In a job that can sometimes be very challenging and stressful, particularly considering the current teacher shortage in the United States, setting aside time each day to rest and replenish oneself is vital. It is important to lean on colleagues; guides and leaders should discuss the happenings of their day, vent when needed, and share their feelings with one another to receive helpful guidance and support. When necessary, one should take a mental health day to spend time doing things that are rejuvenating. Prioritizing activities outside of work is also essential for guides and administrators to meet their spiritual needs and feel a sense of completeness. Here are four ways administrators can support guides in taking time to invest in themselves.

Montessorians are often very dedicated to their practice, making diligent efforts to embody the ideals Dr. Montessori prescribed. In a society that has become so focused on maximum professional performance, it is essential that Montessori guides and administrators keep the heart of the pedagogy at the forefront of their daily existence to avoid grind culture. Living intentionally and taking time each day to invest in self-care will not only promote their spiritual and social-emotional well-being, but will allow them to more fully engage in meaningful intellectual growth as well.


Maria Montessori. The Advanced Montessori Method Volume 1. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Library, p. 107.

About the Author

Heather White

Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori coach and consultant, content creator, and educator for adult learners, as well as a moderator and manager for the Montessori at Home (0 – 3 years) Facebook group. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, in-home caregiver, Lower Elementary coordinator, and associate head of school. She also has experience as a school psychologist intern. She is AMS-credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I) and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Contact her at hpratt@stetson.edu.

The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.

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