The quality of any Montessori program is closely linked to the quality of the teachers running it. Teachers with proper training and strong abilities can often provide the right learning environment for your child. On the other hand, teachers without this expertise often can’t.
It’s important, then, to inquire about the training and credentials of teachers. You should ask school officials whether teachers have specialized Montessori training, as well as what other training and education they might have. You should also ask whether teachers are offered any form of ongoing professional development, such as classes, workshops, or seminars in Montessori education.
Italian educator Maria Montessori believed that you must learn for yourself or it won't mean a thing. Because she believed a person couldn’t be taught by another, children get up and move around and let curiosity be their guide.
And because she believed "the hand is the chief teacher of the brain," students most often learn by touch—by handling specially designed materials such as golden math beads, sandpaper letters, and wooden maps of the world. The teacher's job is to show children how to use these materials—then leave them to learn independently.
The teacher works with each individual student on what that child is interested in learning about: from cursive to marine life, to counting or math, the teacher’s job is to give the student the tools he or she needs to promote the learning process. This is how Maria Montessori believed a classroom should run—as a marketplace of discovery where children learn at their own pace, with the teacher stepping in only when needed.
Teachers are required to go through comprehensive training in order to become accredited teachers for the classroom. Elementary school teachers are required to have a solid foundation in the liberal arts, humanities, and all other major subject areas that are likely to be a part of the curriculum.
The goal isn’t for teachers to be experts in everything, but to be a guide, or as Paula Polk Lillard writes in Montessori Today: A comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood, a renaissance person: knowledgeable enough to get, and keep children interested in a given subject, to help direct them to find the answers to their questions independently.
Textbooks created by each teacher-in-training will give them a more complete understanding of the method and how to be successful in the classroom. Essentially, they will create their future classroom materials as they are being trained, and are inspected thoroughly by certified trainers at both the national and international levels.
Different training centres, such as the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and American Montessori Society (AMS), use different approaches to train teachers. There are also different training courses for each level of education. Oral and written exams are required by most training centres.
Many say that if school were more like camp, kids would do better. At Lakefield College School, that camp-like feel has been achieved. Outdoor education is a part of every school day and lesson… and the results are outstanding. [Read more]