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What is a Montessori Teacher?

Teacher reads to elementary students.

There are many misconceptions about Montessori education. For instance, some think the students are on their own and teach themselves. There is some truth to that, as the method calls on students to work independently and for older students to mentor younger ones. However, the role of a Montessori teacher is critical to the students’ learning, the operation of the classroom and staying true to Montessori principles.

A Quick Look at Montessori Teaching

The Montessori method calls for teachers to be guides as students learn traditional school subjects, life skills and more at their own pace and under their own direction. There are standards for applying the Montessori method to teaching, including that every Montessori classroom is required to have at least one teacher who has been certified in the method.

Montessori schools veer away from traditional teaching methods. In the Montessori classroom, students are typically grouped in multiple ages, usually ranges of three years. Students choose how they learn and the teacher is there to observe and guide them until their students reach mastery on a skill. It’s important to note that students don’t learn by grade level. As a result, some students learn faster, and others take more time. Once a task is mastered, the student moves on to the next one, no waiting for other students to catch up.

Traditional teaching methods are much different. In these schools, students are typically assigned a grade level based of their age. While some schools may have the benefit of being able to offer classes for students with different abilities, many do not. Students who master a subject early will typically have to sit through the class with the other students until the end of the semester. Testing is central to traditional education, both subject tests given by the teacher and standardized tests mandated by the government or school board. Teachers often must conform their curricula to state and national standards. It’s a fairly rigid environment.

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All the professors in CU's program have real-world experience in Montessori education and hold advanced degrees in education and in Montessori philosophy and method as well as international and national Montessori certifications and credentials.

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The Role and Responsibilities of Montessori Teacher

One of the most important responsibilities of a Montessori teacher is observing children closely and determining when students need guidance or autonomy, according to Diane Bauso, Head of School at Creative Minds Montessori School in Auburn, New York. Observation helps teachers see where the students are in their development. This determines what activities the teacher will guide students toward that will both hold their attention and ignite their curiosity so that the child will naturally develop focus and deep concentration.

Teachers act as the dynamic link between the students and the learning materials, which are carefully and intentionally placed within a specially prepared learning environment. In fact, many of the standard features in today’s early childhood classrooms – such as child-sized furnishings, sensorial-based developmental materials and inquiry-based strategies – trace their origins from Montessori’s first classroom and subsequent revisions of her methodology.

Montessori teachers must embody the Montessori principles and be a good role model for their students. Being polite, humble, curious, peaceful, grounded and honest helps show students what is expected of their behavior and attitude.

Montessori Teacher Requirements

Follow the Child.” That one phrase really embodies the role of a teacher in a Montessori school. Teachers guide and observe their students, and students lead themselves.

Montessori teaching is a female-dominated profession, with women representing 97 percent .

see the field. Job growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in general is on pace with the national average; it is expected that the field will grow by 7 percent by 2026.

Private and public Montessori schools have different requirements for hiring teachers. Likewise, requirements for teaching vary by state. Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree in Montessori education is often required for advancement and leadership positions. Accreditation from a Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) affiliate is optional but critical for advancement.

There are more than 4,000 public and private Montessori schools nationwide, and there are just under 30 public Montessori schools in Kentucky alone. The hybrid online M.Ed. in Montessori Teacher Education with an on-campus component from Campbellsville University can help you become a leader in one of those classrooms. All the professors in Campbellsville University’s program have real-world experience in Montessori education and hold advanced degrees in education and in Montessori philosophy and method as well as international and national Montessori certifications and credentials. Our program is one of just a few Montessori training programs that is tied to an accredited university undergraduate- or graduate-level program.