Friday, January 18, 2013

Working with Your Montessori Assistant

NAMC working with your montessori assistant mapping triangles
Working closely with your Montessori assistant benefits you and the children
“The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, pg. 87.)

When I first learned that, as a Montessori teacher, I would have a full-time assistant, I was ecstatic. Having taught in a conventional classroom with large class sizes and no help, an assistant seemed like the answer to a prayer.

Working with an assistant can certainly be rewarding. It can be beneficial to you and the children to have an additional adult in the classroom, walking around and assisting children while you are giving lessons. However, as I soon learned, working with an assistant does not necessarily come naturally. Creating a working team takes time and patience, and most importantly, an open dialog between teacher and assistant.

Establishing Clear Expectations with Your Montessori Assistant

NAMC working with your montessori assistant in the classroom
The Montessori lead teacher and assistant work together to establish a positive learning environment
Communication is the key to forming a healthy, productive team. Having clearly defined expectations is one way to promote ongoing communication. Begin by developing a list of situational questions that you and your assistant can discuss together, including:

  • How to talk to children
  • Presenting lessons
  • Snack and lunch expectations
  • Handling interruptions
  • Talking to parents
  • Children asking for help
  • Children behaving inappropriately during work time; during circle, on the playground
  • Children complaining or “telling” on another child
  • Children who behave aggressively
  • Children getting sick

It is also a good idea to come up with procedures that will help establish a calm and peaceful working environment. Procedures to discuss could include:

  • Greeting children in the morning
  • The morning work cycle
  • Communicating with the other adult(s) in the classroom
  • Nap time
  • Cleaning the classroom
  • Going out/field trip responsibilities
  • Writing observations
  • Maintaining confidentiality

Nurturing a relationship takes time. Keep a copy of these situations and procedures handy as a future reference. You may wish to set assigned regular meeting times to discuss what is happening with the children and the classroom. With clear goals and expectations, you and your assistant will build and maintain a relationship that is beneficial for all.
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 Friday, January 18, 2013.


  1. Hello Montessori teachers.

    We are a South African Montessori 9-12 class in Cape Town. Please visit our blog and leave a comment.



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