Sunday, January 13, 2008

Choosing the Right Montessori School as a Teacher

Choosing Right NAMC Montessori School as a Teacher and student
When searching for the right Montessori school in which to teach, many of the same considerations should be taken as if you were a parent searching for the right school for your child.

Before you apply to a school, do as much research as you can. Many schools have websites where you can get a sense of their mission statement, philosophy, and environment. Sometimes by simply reading through a school’s website, you will get an idea of whether or not the school may be a good fit for you.

When you are called for an interview, have a set of prepared questions to take in with you. Try to schedule at least half of a day for observation if the administration doesn’t require it during their hiring process. During the interview and observation, keep these questions in mind:

Am I Choosing the Right Montessori School for Me as a Montessori Teacher?

The Montessori Learning Environment…
  • Is it warm and inviting?
  • Is it clean?
  • Are the materials kept clean and in working order?
  • Are there enough materials?
  • Is the room big enough/spacious enough to accommodate the children and the materials?
  • Is there enough natural light?
  • Is there space for my own materials: manuals, supplies, etc?
  • Is the noise level in the classroom at an acceptable level during both work time and times of transition?
  • What is the student population like?

Choosing Right NAMC Montessori School as a Teacher prepared environment

The Montessori Students…
  • Are they engaged in learning?
  • Do they use the materials?
  • Are they respectful of the environment, their peers, and adults?
  • Do they greet you?
  • How do they address their teachers? (Do they use their first names, say Miss Michelle, or Mrs. Irinyi)?
  • How do they play on the playground?
  • How do they act during lunch?
  • Are there computers in the classroom?
  • Are students required to participate in the daily cleaning and maintenance of the classroom?

The Montessori Teachers…
  • Do the teachers interact in a warm and nurturing manner with the students?
  • Do they act as a low-profile observer of students?
  • Do they tell engaging stories?
  • Do they use a 3-period lesson?
  • Are there individual lessons or larger group lessons?
  • What is the tone of their voices?
  • How do they dress?
  • How to the address one another?
  • Do the teachers give Montessori lessons and follow up? Or do they prefer to use textbooks and pre-made worksheets?
  • Do the teachers use any type of technology in the classroom or in their lessons?
  • Who teaches music, physical education, art, foreign language?
  • Is there a workplan and what does it look like?
  • What is the homework policy?

Choosing Right NAMC Montessori School as a Teacher children study botany

The Montessori Classroom Environment...
  • Does it reflect the personal expression of the teacher?
  • Is the students’ work attractively displayed?
  • Do the shelves: display attractive, durable materials?
  • Have sequenced materials with proper storage?
  • Have self-contained materials?
  • Are there a variety of work spaces?
  • Is there a separation for quiet and noisy work?
  • Does the classroom encourage natural socializing?
  • Are there adequate traffic patterns?
  • Is there space to layout big works?
  • Is there adequate personal storage space for students and teachers?
  • Does it offer a variety of lessons, methods, and materials that adequately address diverse learning styles?

The Montessori Program...
  • Does the program encourage students to stretch their “comfort zones”?
  • Does it encourage collaborative and peer teaching?
  • Are student schedules and expectations displayed to help students make responsible choices?
  • Does it include social activities and celebrations?
  • Are there community meetings that encourage student input, discussion, and problem solving?
  • Are there consistent routines, schedules and groundrules?
  • Does it emphasize intrinsic motivation that allows for student input and reflection?
  • Does it make use of resources outside the classroom?

The Montessori School Environment…
  • Is it a private or public school?
  • If it’s a public or public charter school, how much state mandated curriculum must they address in their classrooms that is not Montessori curriculum?
  • Do they use standardized testing? If so, for what purpose?
  • What is the policy on parent volunteers?
  • Do they have a current school calendar?
  • Are there any paid teacher workdays?
  • What are the expected hours for teachers?
  • Is there a faculty room? Kitchen? Laundry facilities?
  • Is there a photocopier? A laminator? Are there fees to use it?
  • Does the school supply any type of supplies, such as construction paper, office supplies?
  • Does the school provide before and after school care for students?
  • What are the arrival and dismissal policies?
  • How many field trips are you expected to take? What is the policy on those?
  • Who is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of classrooms?
  • Who can I go to for help?
  • Is there a school faculty manual?
  • What is the tuition? Is there a discount for faculty children?
  • How do they recruit new families?
  • What is the policy on accepting non-Montessori students into an established class?
  • What are the policies on discipline?
  • Is there a school nurse?
  • Is the salary viable? How is it paid: bi-weekly, monthly, over 10 or 12 months?

Most importantly, when all is said and done, ask yourself this: Can you imagine yourself working in the environment that you have just observed, with the teachers and children that you have just met? Does it fit your personal and professional philosophy? Will you make a positive impact on the children and the environment? If your answer is yes to these questions, it should be a pretty well-fitting match both for you and for the school. NAMC's Montessori Classroom Guides include excellent tools for teachers such as "Preparing for and Participating in an Interview".
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Sunday, January 13, 2008.


  1. What a fantastic and thorough list. I wish I had it when I was looking for a job.

    I don't know if any school would have all the things you mention, but using this list would let you know in advance where you might want to make changes or have some adjustments to make.

    Great job!

  2. I've taught at several Montessori schools and observed and interviewed at even more. Some I knew right away that it wouldn't be a good fit. Others, I needed a good list to help me decide if it was the right place for me.

  3. That is a great list! Thank you. It will help me as I start to really look for a school that will fit me.

  4. Good luck in your search, Nicole. I hope you find the perfect school!


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