Student Teaching in Montessori Schools?

Discussion in 'Montessori' started by TeacherGrl7, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

    Oct 30, 2005
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    Jun 30, 2007

    Hello All,

    I just have a question about doing any kind of fieldwork in a Montessori school. I've already completed my student teaching and fieldwork, but I was talking to a colleague the other day and she said that one of her fieldworks was completed in a Montessori school. She was in the room for 3 hours a week for 10 weeks. I thought it was strange, she said that she was instructed not to interact with the students. Her cooperating teacher told her that she was not Montessori trained and that therefore she wasn't allowed to interact with the children. She received a place to sit in the back of the room where she could observe, but that was it. If the children came up to her to talk she had to instruct them to go and play or something along those lines.

    I thought this was strange, because the placement required her to take an active role in the classroom. Her professor had to rearrange her projects because she was not allowed to teach a formal lesson in the classroom.

    The whole situation seemed odd to me. I have a little knowledge of Montessori teaching, but not much and this story of hers just captured my attention. I'm wondering, is this general practice in Montessori schools? Was it just the teacher, or is that actually a rule, that pre-service teachers can't interact with the children? I just don't really understand why the school would take on fieldwork participants if they were not going to enable them to work with the children. I'm hoping someone can enlighten me!! Thank you in advance!
  3. MS Candy

    MS Candy Comrade

    Apr 30, 2006
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    Jul 1, 2007

    Yikes! I student taught in a Public Montessori (charter) and I did not have this type of experience!
    I was also an assistant-co-teacher, though I never attempted a montessori lesson without being taught how to use the materials, my co-teacher/master teacher was SUPER! I also read on my own and did homework to understand the theory and background of Montessori.
    Of course my University would have not let me become a teacher if I just observed...
    Our public charter has to follow Ca State Standards, too. Maybe private schools do things different or your state has different allowances as well.
    I also know that my University had to make sure the charter school had specific accreditation as well.
    I am looking forward to hearing more about this from others.
  4. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

    Oct 30, 2005
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    Jul 1, 2007

    Oooh that is interesting. I don't think at my college that they would have been able to refuse her certification just because she had to observe in one placement. We did approximately 100 hours of fieldwork before we even started student teaching, and then we had to student teach for an entire September-May school year. I know plenty of people (myself included) that were stuck in horrible placements that they had no control over and did not get the opporunity to teach in. However, since we also had no control over where we were placed, it was deemed the school's responsibility to find us placements that would be beneficial to us. I don't think that she could be penalized for 30 hours of a bad placement.

    At any rate, it makes me feel better that this isn't something that is a Montessori rule, as I suppose it isn't since you had a very different experience. I just couldn't understand why the school wouldn't just say no, we don't take student teachers, and be done with it. But it seems like possibly this was a teacher issue and not a program issue.

    Thanks! Looking forward to other experiences...
  5. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

    May 18, 2007
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    Jul 3, 2007

    Veryyyyy strict in Montessori!

    Well TeacherGirl7, I did some observations in a public school Montessori, and I was told the same thing! It didn't bother me, because it was my grad work, not undergrad. Since I really don't need hours, and have my certificate...I know it won't make or break me!

    Montessori is a very strict and structured program. So structured, she literally caused a stir, and a lot of people couldn't get with her philosophy. In order to teach or even be an aide (I think), you must attend a Montessori program, and get a certificate!

    Because of this, underlings like ourselves are not allowed to interact with the kids. In fact Reggio Emilla would probably freak you out as well! :rolleyes: They use a lot of prompts and scripting. Teachers encourage children to find their own answers.

    Case in point...If you were a parent or friend watching preschoolers color, what would you say if one child asked "can you draw a dog for me?" Most parents and other adults would quickly respond yes, and do their best drawing. Trouble is, this prevents the child from using his own creativity, gives him a model to live up to, and you will be stuck there the rest of the day drawing the whole zoo! So I have seen programs that will post specific instructions, "what to do in the art area, and what to say to the children." This way, everyone is on the same page, kids can't pull a fast one on you, and they are getting consistency.

    Hope I didn't go off on the deep end, but I have another story...
    When I subbed one class, the teacher left a note saying "I have a student teacher, DON'T do anything!" No problem with me! I had to learn to be respectful and obedient. I was the certified person in the room, period. Got a little lost when I saw the principal in my room, because I am used to doing something!

    In other words, unless you are fully trained, you are not allowed to interact in most Montessori programs, and students..unfortunately have a hard time applying lessons and just have to follow the rules. Nothing is worse that ticking off a field-based teacher or school! Get the grade, and do some more research on your own, if you are really interested in the Montessori method.

    good luck!
  6. Sterlingrio

    Sterlingrio Rookie

    Jul 3, 2007
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    Jul 4, 2007

    In some sense

    Yeah, wow, I'm so like montesorri-- but then again being a special ed teacher who's goal is to teach independence-- it makes sense not to do something for the child when they ask.

    Anyway doesn't montessori methods have some commonalties with the Socratic teaching method?

    Anyway on a personal note-- I hate it when a child asks someone "can you draw a cat" for me and the person does it. I mean there is atime and place of course, but originally if one does it for the child what does it teach the child-- didn't teach them how to draw the cat-- really it just taught the child if i ask someone to do something for me they will and I won't have to do it myself. ;)

    I think I want to know more about Montessori as it is probably inline with my life philosophy in general.. i.e if the child begins drawing a cat and they decide to tak on an extra tail-- if I make them erase the tail instead of asking "why did you draw 2 tails?" didn't I just stifle their creativity. Plus asking the student "why" makes them learn to justify their response- -and really isn't defending an answer and justifying a response a higher order thinking skill on Bloom's Taxonomy-- it starts young to get students to understand they can justify and defend their responses.

    Hmm.. does sound quite attorney like-- defending and justifying why's and how's and when's... I think that is like the Socratic teaching method which was or is still being used as a teaching method in Law schools.

    So tell me-- where can I learn more about Montessori in depth?
  7. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

    Sep 5, 2004
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    Jul 4, 2007

    To learn more about Montessori, you can start with visiting a Montessori school and observe a classroom. Montessori is hard to explain, but once you see it in action it will make sense to you. We allow the child to become independent. It makes me cringe when people describe Montessori as a strict environment. To me sitting in a chair all day and doing the same work as everyone else is strict. Montessori recognizes that not every child is ready to read at the same time. As a teacher, my job is to observe the child and know when to present a work to the child. Montessori children are allowed to choose what work that they want to work on. The only rule is that they need to be presented a lesson with the work before taking it off the shelf. The children are allowed to work with their "works" until they are finished. Montessori children are free to move about the classroom. Taking out works and returning them to the shelves. There are Montessori videos on YouTube. Just type in Montessori and it should bring up several videos that can give you just a glimpse of what goes on in a typical Montessori classroom. My best advice is just to visit several schools.
  8. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

    Sep 5, 2004
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    Jul 4, 2007

    I found this at another website:

    * The following ideas are excerpted from The Authentic American
    Montessori School: A Guide to the Self-Study, Evaluation, and
    Accreditation of American Schools Committed to Montessori Education,
    by Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambush and Dr. John Stoops, published in1992
    by the Commission on Elementary Schools of the Middle States
    Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Montessori Society.

    The Montessori Learning Environment

    A Child-Centered Environment: The focus of activity in the Montessori
    setting is on children’s learning, not on teachers’ teaching.
    Generally student will work individually or in small, self-selected
    groups. There will be very few whole group lessons.

    A Responsive Prepared Environment: The environment should be designed
    to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and development of the
    children in the class. The teachers should design and adapt the
    environment with this community of children in mind, rapidly
    modifying the selection of educational materials available, the
    physical layout, and the tone of the class to best fit the ever
    changing needs of the children.

    A Focus on Individual Progress and Development: Within a Montessori
    program, children progress at the own pace, moving on to the next
    step in each area of learning as they are ready. While the child
    lives within a larger community of children, each student is viewed
    as a universe of one.

    Montessori Learning Activities

    Hands On Learning: In Montessori, students rarely learn from texts or
    workbooks. In all cases, direct personal hands-on contact with either
    real things under study or with concrete models that bring abstract
    concepts to life allow children to learn with much deeper understanding.

    Spontaneous Activity: It is natural for children to wiggle, touch
    things, and explore the world around them. Any true Montessori
    environment encourages children to move about freely, within
    reasonable limits of appropriate behavior. Much of the time they
    select work that captures their interest and attention, although
    teachers also strive to draw their attention and capture their
    interest in new challenges and areas of inquiry. And even within this
    atmosphere of spontaneous activity, students do eventually have to
    master the basic skills of their culture, even if they would prefer
    to avoid them.

    Active Learning: In Montessori classrooms, children not only select
    their own work most of the time, but also continue to work with
    tasks, returning to continue their work over many weeks or months,
    until finally the work is “so easy for them” that they can teach it
    to younger children. This is one of many ways that Montessori
    educators use to confirm that students have reached mastery of each

    Self-directed Activity: One of Montessori’s key concepts is the idea
    that children are driven by their desire to become independent and
    competent beings in the world to learn new things and master new
    skills. For this reason, outside rewards to create external
    motivation are both unnecessary and potentially can lead to passive
    adults who are dependent on others for everything from their self-
    image to permission to follow their dreams. In the process of making
    independent choices and exploring concepts largely on their own,
    Montessori children construct their own sense of individual identity
    and right and wrong.

    Freedom Within Limits: Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom
    of movement and choice, however their freedom always exists within
    carefully defined limits on the range of their behavior. They are
    free to do anything appropriate to the ground rules of the community,
    but redirected promptly and firmly if they cross over the line.

    Intrinsic motivation to learn: In Montessori programs, children do
    not work for grades or external rewards, nor do they simply complete
    assignments given them by their teachers. Children learn because they
    are interested in things, and because all children share a desire to
    become competent and independent human beings.

    Montessori’s Communities of Learners

    Mixed age groups: Montessori classrooms gather together children of
    two, three, or more age levels into a family group. Children remain
    together for several years, with only the oldest students moving on
    to the next class at year’s end.

    A Family Setting: Montessori classrooms are communities of children
    and adults. As children grow older and more capable, they assume a
    great role in helping to care for the environment and meet the needs
    of younger children in the class. The focus is less on the teachers
    and more on the entire community of children and adults, much like
    one finds in a real family.

    Cooperation and Collaboration, Rather Than Competition: Montessori
    children are encouraged to treat one another with kindness and
    respect. Insults and shunning behavior tends to be much more rare.
    Instead we normally find children who have a great fondness for one
    another, and who a free from the one-up-manship and needless
    interpersonal competition for attention and prestige. Because
    children learn at their own pace, and teachers refrain from comparing
    students against one another.

    To Awaken and Nurture the Human Spirit

    The Child As A Spiritual Being: Montessori saw children as far more
    than simply scholars. In her view, each child is a full and complete
    human being, the mother or father of the adult man or woman she will
    become. Even when very young, the child shares with the rest of
    humanity hopes, dreams, and fears, emotions, and longing. From her
    perspective, this goes beyond mental health to the very core of one’s
    inner spiritual life. Montessori consciously designs social
    communities and educational experiences that cultivate the child’s
    sense of independence, self-respect, love of peace, passion for self-
    chosen work done well, and ability to respect and celebrate the
    individual spirit within people of all ages and the value of all life.

    Universal Values: Montessori deliberately teaches children not only
    appropriate patterns of polite behavior, but seeks to instill basic
    universal values within the core of the child’s personality. These
    values include self-respect, acceptance of the uniqueness and dignity
    of each person we meet, kindness, peacefulness, compassion, empathy,
    honor, individual responsibility, and courage to speak from our hearts.

    Global Understanding: All Montessori schools are to a large degree
    international schools. They not only tend to attract a diverse
    student body representing many ethnic backgrounds, religions, and
    international backgrounds, but they actively celebrate their
    diversity. The curriculum is international in its heritage and focus,
    and consciously seeks to promote a global perspective.

    Service to Others: Montessori’s spiritual perspective leads
    Montessori schools to consciously organize programs of community
    service ranging from daily contributions to others within the class
    or school setting, to community outreach programs that allow children
    and adults to make a difference in the lives of others. The
    fundamental idea is one of stewardship.

    The Montessori Teacher

    Authoritative: The teacher is firm at the edges and empathetic at the
    center, the kind of adult who responds empathetically to children’s
    feelings, while setting clear and consistent limits.

    Observer: The Montessori teacher is a trainer observer of children’s
    learning and behavior. These careful observation are recorded and
    used to infer where each student is in terms of his or her
    development, and leads the teacher to know when to intervene in the
    child’s learning with a new lesson, a fresh challenge, or a
    reinforcement of basic groundrules.

    An Educational Resource: Montessori teachers facilitate the learning
    process by serving as a resource to whom the children can turn as
    they pull together information, impressions, and experiences.

    Role Model: Like all great teachers, the Montessori educator
    deliberately models the behaviors and attitudes that she is working
    to instill in her students. Because of Montessori’s emphasis on
    character development, the Montessori teacher normally is
    exceptionally calm, kind, warm, and polite to each child.

    What Montessori Teachers Do

    Respectfully Engaged With The Learner: The Montessori teacher
    recognizes that her role is not so much to teach as to inspire,
    mentor, and facilitate the learning process. The real work of
    learning belongs to the individual child. Because of this, the
    Montessori educator remains conscious of her role in helping each
    child to fulfill his potential as a human being and of creating an
    environment for learning within which children will feel safe,
    cherished, and empowered.

    Facilitates The “Match” Between The Learner And Knowledge: Montessori
    teachers are trained to identify the best response to the changing
    interests and needs of each child as a unique individual. Because
    they truly accept that children learn in many different ways and at
    their own pace, Montessori educators understand that they must
    “follow the child,” adjusting their strategies and timetable to fit
    the development of each of their pupils.

    Environmental Engineer: Montessori teachers organize appropriate
    social settings and academic programs for children at their own level
    of development. They do this to a large degree through the design of
    the classroom, selection and organization of learning activities, and
    structure of the day.
  9. allietx

    allietx New Member

    Jul 22, 2007
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    Aug 4, 2007

    In my experience, AMI accredited schools will not permit non-AMI certified teachers to give lessons in their classrooms. AMS accredited schools are more likely to allow intern guides (Montessori student teachers) to give lessons in the classroom.

  10. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

    Apr 11, 2006
    Likes Received:

    Aug 7, 2007

    For AMI, when in training, you first do a series of classroom observations and then go back to the same class later in the year to begin practice teaching. The art of observation is one of the cornerstones of this philosophy. The Directress (Montessori for teacher) uses observation daily.
    I find it hard to understand the problem some people have with the certification process. Montessori is a comprehensive and very well organized system of education with a philosophical component that must be internalized by the adult in order to make it effective. You can't just put someone into the classroom and expect them to make it work. It requires specialized training and alot of dedication.
    Also, Montessori recognizes that the beginning stages of the ability to concentrate and follow through on your work is pretty vulnerable for very young children. The atmosphere is preserved as a calm and quiet place for children to work and explore where there work and concentration is protection from unneccessary disruptions.

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