The Montessori Directress
Called a “directress” by Montessori Method founder Dr. Maria Montessori (back in the day when teachers were mostly women), and sometimes known as a “guide,” the Montessori teacher plays many roles as she directs, or guides, her students.
The Montessori Teacher functions as a role model, demonstrator, record keeper, and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. Like her students, she is an active and curious learner. A delight in continual inquiry and growth and a respect for each child’s unique learning styles and interests are among her key qualities.
She doesn't present information for rote learning. Rather, she demonstrates specially designed learning materials that serve as a springboard for investigation and discovery. At the heart of the Montessori Method is the concept that mastery is best achieved through exploration, imitation, repetition, and trial and error.
It is the Montessori teacher who prepares the active, developmentally appropriate learning environment, furnished with specially designed materials, where students explore, discover, and experience the joy of learning. She thoughtfully prepares her classroom environment with materials and activities that meet students’ unique interests, academic level, and developmental needs. Which are introduced to each child sequentially, laying the foundation for independent learning.
Through careful observation, the Montessori teacher comes to know each student’s interests, learning style, and temperament. She understands the student’s developmental needs, and is receptive to a child's “sensitive periods.” Always, the teacher is aware of each student’s progress as she works toward mastering the particular concept or skill. She knows when to step in to offer special guidance, and when to challenge a student with the next step in a learning sequence.
With this information the teacher chooses materials and lessons that will capture the student’s attention and entice her to learn. When she observes that the student has mastered a concept or skill, she introduces new lessons that become increasingly complex and abstract. She helps them advance through the curriculum as they master new skills, so they are continually challenged and eager to learn.
A Montessori class is a close-knit community, fertile ground for nurturing the qualities that help children and youth become citizens of the world and stewards of the planet.
Montessori education addresses the whole child: his physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. As well as helping each child become an independent learner, the teacher helps turn a child's attention outward, fostering community, collaboration, and respect for the dignity of others.
By his own behavior and attitudes, the teacher models values such as empathy, compassion, and acceptance of individual differences. He encourages the students to be courteous and kind. And she brings students together in collaborative activities to foster teamwork, responsibility, self-discipline, and respect.
The Montessori classroom is a place of discovery, often as much for the teacher as for her students. It’s not hard to imagine how, in the spirit of inquiry, the curriculum sometimes takes an unexpected turn. For Montessori teachers, that’s part of the pleasure. Like their students, Montessori teachers delight in the challenge of new ideas and experiences; they are enthusiastic learners with a passion for life. In the course of helping children become lifelong learners, Montessori teachers enjoy a personal journey of continued discovery and growth.