Monday, November 23, 2009

The Importance of the Montessori Preschool / Kindergarten Assistant: A Guide To Success

This is the second of a two-part article. Click here to see Part 1.

Several years ago, two weeks before a new school year began, my director came to me with bad news. My Montessori assistant’s husband had been transferred and they were relocating out of state. Not to worry, my director said, she would find me a new assistant before school started. Two weeks later, at noon on the Friday before the first day of school, I met my new assistant. Fresh out of college, she looked at me and innocently asked “So, what’s this Montessori stuff all about anyway?”

A good, well-trained assistant is irreplaceable in the Montessori environment.

The Importance of the Montessori Preschool / Kindergarten Assistant: A Guide To Success

It is a position that requires high energy and a gentle spirit combined with a willing “can-do” attitude and a healthy sense of humor. The roles and expectations of both the Montessori teacher and assistant should be clearly defined in the beginning. Assistants are entitled to clear, concrete expectations, policies, and procedures. Clear verbal and written communication is the key to this collaborative and interdependent relationship. It is important to put this in writing so that it may be referred to as needed.

Susanne, from Beautiful Sun Montessori in Aruba, has put together an Assistant’s Album which she uses with new assistants in her school. She includes sections on the following information:
  • a brief history of the Montessori Philosophy and Method
  • key concepts of Montessori Education
  • comparisons between Montessori and Traditional Education
  • overview of the school
  • detailed daily schedule with detailed assistant’s tasks
  • the role of the assistant in the classroom
  • communicating with children
  • observation tasks and techniques
  • further readings
  • lessons that may be given as the assistant becomes more familiar with her role
Working knowledge of the history and philosophy of Montessori education is crucial for anyone working in the Montessori environment. Orientation programs, workshops, books, articles, and videos can all help accomplish this goal. However, that is not enough. It takes practical, hands-on experience in the Montessori environment to develop both familiarity and competence. It is important to encourage and develop ongoing relationships with a variety of Montessori professionals who can model, guide, and answer questions on how best to apply the Montessori philosophy and theory into practice in the classroom. The NAMC Classroom Guides provide detailed information on the Montessori history, philosophy, theory and method.
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 Monday, November 23, 2009.


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