Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are We Following Montessori Principles? Observe Your Montessori Classroom and School With This Checklist

NAMC montessori principles observe school with checklist teacher and student
Many of our NAMC students and graduates around the globe are interested in eventually opening their own Montessori schools. In fact, this was the main reason I completed the NAMC 3-6 training. I realized that if I was going to be the administrator of a Montessori school, I needed to know personally about the Montessori philosophy and method if I was going to hire and retain the best teachers and attract families.

Striving for and maintaining the Montessori “standard” is an ongoing commitment and practice for any Montessori school. Whether you are an experienced Montessori teacher or a Montessori administrator it is a good idea to occasionally take a look at your current program and make sure you can find evidence that what is happening in your school accurately reflects the Montessori philosophy of education as well as your school’s mission statement. Montessori teacher candidates and prospective Montessori parents are encouraged to visit several Montessori schools and make formal classroom observations so as to witness the Montessori philosophy and method in action. Using a checklist such the one below should help you get a sense as to whether or not the school is adhering to Montessori’s own principles.

Are We Following Montessori Principles? Observe Your Montessori Classroom and School With This Checklist

What would Dr. Montessori observe?

"The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." (Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind.)
NAMC montessori principles observe school with checklist girl and shape cards
Environment:
  • designed for the child through beauty, order, and simplicity
  • utilizes mixed age groups
  • maximizes independent learning and open-ended exploration
  • maintains a calm, orderly environment
  • materials are attractively displayed and stored appropriately
  • materials are grouped by subject
  • materials are sequenced by level
  • materials are accessible to all students
  • space is provided for large activities
  • activities are diversified to accommodate learning and intelligence styles
  • traffic patterns are established by placement of furniture
  • designated “quiet” areas
  • variety of work spaces
  • student work is attractively displayed
  • promotes freedom of movement and exploration
  • encourages the natural social movements of children
  • reflection of the personal style of the teacher
“It is my belief that the thing which we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist; that is, the direction of the preparation should be toward the spirit rather than toward the mechanism.” (Montessori, Maria. The Montessori Method.)

Teacher:
  • warm and nurturing manner
  • shows genuine interest in students
  • uses the 3-period lesson
  • engages and encourages students in lessons
  • maintains a low-profile in the classroom
  • models grace and courtesy
  • uses a soft “inside” voice
  • promotes peace and conflict-resolution within the classroom
  • engages in positive, respectful redirection of inappropriate behaviors
“If we could say: “We are respectful and courteous in our dealings with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,” we should certainly have mastered a great educational principle and undoubtedly be setting an example of good education.” (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook.)

Program:
  • promotes respect for all cultures and peoples
  • clear student expectations
  • emphasizes responsible, personal choice
  • collaboration between students as well as between teachers
  • use of non-classroom resources, including “going-out” experiences
  • provides on-going parent education
NAMC's Classroom Guides provide detailed guidance on the Montessori philosophy, and how to apply it in your Montessori classroom. The Classroom Guides are an integral part of all NAMC's diploma programs, and are also available for sale separately.
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 Wednesday, October 21, 2009.

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Thank you to the NAMC Montessori community!

This year marks NAMC’s 20th anniversary of providing quality Montessori distance training and curriculum development to Montessorians around the globe. Since we began in 1996, we have grown to build a fantastic community of students, graduates, and schools in over 120 countries. We are grateful for your continued support and dedication to furthering the reach and success of the Montessori method. Thank you for sharing this amazing milestone with us!