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TEACHER + MONTESSORI

Updated: Apr 15, 2019



Teacher + Montessori


My parent friends are always asking, “What is Montessori and does it really help? I want something more structured for my son/daughter, I don’t like that you can freely choose your work”.


Everyone has opinions of their own about the Montessori method - and that’s OKAY!


My opinion is that it all comes down to the connection the teacher has with your child and the connection the child has with the lessons.


I taught at a private preschool and a few Montessori schools. What’s the difference between the two? Montessori is set up for a self paced environment where children are allowed to choose work freely in a multi age setting. As for preschool everyone is learning at the same pace and subjects without accounting for the child’s unique needs.


Lessons and materials in a Montessori school and preschool are different BUT with that being said the main focus is WHO is teaching it? You can go through the course get your certification and call yourself a Montessori teacher but is the teacher connected? Does she understand the true meaning of the Montessori method? Is she keeping your child engaged and the classroom engaged? Is she changing out practical life materials every month? Is your child connecting to the teacher and work?


Many times in my career as a Montessori teacher and as a Director, I came across teachers who gave lessons followed by paper work and that’s it. Their practical life materials stayed the same all year long and they diverted to themes for art projects and call themselves Montessori teachers.


That’s NOT Montessori!!


The role of a Montessori teacher is that of an observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher's first objective is to prepare and organize the learning environment to meet the unique needs and interests of the children and promote independence.


When I went through my Montessori education, I remember my “intern” year I worked under a VERY educated, passionate and caring teacher. The way she spoke to the children (in a soft tone), the way she managed the classroom and made sure everything was prepared and organized for them every morning said SO MUCH. She went that extra mile everyday to make sure they got the best from her and their environment. She changed materials every month and introduced new things to keep the children engaged at a high level. As I watched her I slowly began to internalize the meaning of the Montessori method. It became evident to me how important it is as a teacher to connect with your students and communicate.


Communication is HUGE.


As adults when we go on vacation we have to let our bosses, friends, family, etc know of our absence. Just like that our students want to know of any changes to the routine. I ALWAYS communicated with my students where I was going a week prior to going on vacation and we made it a FUN lesson by showing them on the map and learning about area. When I came back I would always show them pictures and then we would do some kind of art work related to where I went. They LOVED it.


This process showed my students that I cared for them and I wasn’t leaving them out and allowed them to trust and connect with me.


Practical life is very important in a Montessori classroom. As a teacher it is OUR responsibility to change out materials every month. You could start with changing out the water color, trays, pom-poms, tools, etc. A little prep work goes a long way! So, don’t forget to make those little changes for your students and parents ask your teachers, ‘“What are you doing this month in your practical life area?”


Practical life is very important in a Montessori classroom. As a teacher it is OUR responsibility to change out materials every month. You could start with changing out the water color, trays, pom-poms, tools, etc. A little prep work goes a long way! So, don’t forget to make those little changes for your students and parents ask your teachers, ‘“What are you doing this month in your practical life area?”


Everyone knows that a lively teacher attracts more than a dull one, and we can all be lively if we try...


When selecting your Montessori school always ask about the teacher, her experience and schedule a time to meet with her. You're not just choosing a school, you're choosing a role model for your child.



In The Absorbent Mind (pp. 277-81), Maria Montessori offered some general principles of behavior for teachers in the Montessori classroom. (NAMC Blog)


"The teacher becomes the keeper and custodian of the environment. She attends to this instead of being distracted by the children's restlessness... All the apparatus is to be kept meticulously in order, beautiful and shining, in perfect condition... This means that the teacher also must be...tidy and clean, calm and dignified...The teacher's first duty is therefore to watch over the environment, and this takes precedence over all the rest. Its influence is indirect, but unless it be well done there will be no effective and permanent results of any kind, physical, intellectual or spiritual."


"The teacher must...entice the children... The teacher, in this first period, before concentration has shown itself, must be like the flame, which heartens all by its warmth, enlivens and invites. There is no need to fear that she will interrupt some important psychic process, since these have not yet begun. Before concentration occurs, the [Montessori teacher] may do more or less what she thinks best; she can interfere with the children's activities as she deems necessary... She can tell stories, have some games and singing, use nursery rhymes and poetry. The teacher who has a gift for charming the children can have them do various exercises, which, even if they have no great value educationally, are useful in calming them. Everyone knows that a lively teacher attracts more than a dull one, and we can all be lively if we try... If at this stage there is some child who persistently annoys the others, the most practical thing to do is interrupt him...to break the flow of disturbing activity. The interruption may take the form of any kind of exclamation, or in showing a special and affectionate interest in the troublesome child."


"Finally the time comes in which the children begin to take an interest in something: usually, in the exercises of Practical Life, for experience shows that it is useless and harmful to give the children Sensorial and Cultural apparatus before they are ready to benefit from it. Before introducing this kind of material, one must wait until the children have acquired the power to concentrate on something, and usually...this occurs with the exercises of Practical Life. When the child begins to show interest in one of these, the teacher must not interrupt, because this interest corresponds with natural laws and opens up a whole cycle of new activities... The teacher, now, must be most careful. Not to interfere means not to interfere in any way. This is the moment at which the teacher most often goes wrong. The child, who up to that moment has been very difficult, finally concentrates on a piece of work... Praise, help, or even a look, may be enough to interrupt him, or destroy the activity. It seems a strange thing to say, but this can happen even if the child merely becomes aware of being watched. . . . The great principle that brings success to the teacher is this: as soon as concentration has begun, act as if the child does not exist... The duty of the teacher is only to present new things when she knows that a child has exhausted all the possibilities of those he was using before."







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