Each Montessori classroom does things a little differently and each teacher finds the balance that works for them and their students through thoughtful observation. One of the Montessori environments in which I have worked was essentially two spaces or “rooms” separated by a wall. Our Montessori environment was academically focused and rather than giving the children complete freedom to choose their daily work, we arranged one new presentation each day for students to complete. This functioned quite well and the children all loved working on their "big work". We divided the two rooms into the main Montessori preschool/kindergarten (ages 3-6) subject areas:
Thoughts on Daily Preparation Routines for the Montessori Preschool Environment: Planning for Space and Time
My co-teacher and I decided that it would work best if we both had equal time with the children so that we could collect and share insight into their various needs, strengths, weaknesses and academic levels. This facilitated collaboration as we observed and recognized the needs of each child. To do this, we alternated working in both rooms. In Room 2 we focused on Math and Language presentations while the work in Room 1 was focused on monitoring Practical Life & Art, Sensorial and Culture & Science, and classroom management such as assisting children when needed and reminding them of the rules and routines, i.e., tucking in chairs, working quietly, putting work away, etc.
In order to create the most productive use of our time with the children, we divided them into two groups after circle time. For example, we would invite 10 children (one at a time) to find something to work on in Room 1 and they have complete freedom to choose whatever they would like (Practical Life, Art, puzzles, blocks, Sensorial, Culture & Science, snack, maps, nomenclature material, etc).
The other 10 children were invited to Room 2 to look for their name tags, which were placed either on a mat or table with the work chosen for them to work on that day. Montessori students already familiar with the chosen material would work independently at their table or mat while others would be introduced to the material with a presentation by the Montessori teacher. As the children completed their work, they returned their Montessori work material to the shelf where it belonged and had the choice of choosing another Math or Language activity on their own, or they were free to move to Room 1 to choose work there. As a child left Room 2, the teacher marked down on her presentation list that he/she had completed the presentation and then invited a child from Room 1 that had not yet received the presentation to join her in Room 2.
The Montessori teacher responsible for Math and Language that day constantly referred to her list, marking off who she had worked with and inviting other children from Room 1 to join her for a Math or Language presentation. If a child that had not been called to Room 2 wanted to work there, that was just fine and this was never discouraged. When this occurred, I always explained to the child that I was going to be busy working with other children and that he/she would have a turn to work with me very soon. I also let the child know that he/she was welcome to choose an activity that he/she was already familiar with to work on independently. Quite often, there were children that spent their entire class time choosing Montessori Math and Language activities all by themselves to work on independently. It was truly amazing to observe!
As far as making a plan for the year, it is a good idea to write down the themes you wish to cover each month as it helps considerably with the planning process and with feeling organized and on top of things.
* The NAMC 3-6 diploma program includes record keeping sheets for each curriculum area. These are provided on CD-ROM for ease of use. The NAMC 3-6 manuals are rich with activities that span the entire three-year curriculum, including the 3-6 Classroom Guide containing tools and techniques for classroom management.
Some related NAMC blogs:
- Thoughts on Daily Preparation – The Montessori 3-6 Environment, Part 1 of 2
- Daily Preparation of the Montessori Teacher
- Preparation of the Montessori Teacher
- Montessori Elementary Perspectives – Thoughts on Curriculum Scheduling
- Montessori Elementary Perspectives: Following and Inspiring the Child
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, September 30, 2011.