Montessori teachers must be highly trained and as with the choice of a Montessori school for children, an adult must also exercise wisdom in choosing a teacher training course. Anyone can legally use the name “Montessori” in describing their teacher training organization. One must be sure the certification earned is recognized by the school where one desires to teach.
The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Most training centers require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours and covers principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. Montessori training centers can be found across North America and around the world.
There are other courses which can help one better understand Montessori theory or which can train adults to work in certain schools. It is important to balance the amount of time and money one can spend with the teaching opportunities desired.
It is the philosophy and the knowledge of the Montessori teacher that is essential in the success of a Montessori class.
One must be wary of the use of the words “Montessori materials” as many people today use the words as a selling point for materials that have no use in the Montessori classroom and can be distracting and impede a child’s progress.
The “sensorial,” math, and some of the language and cultural materials (metal insets, sandpaper letters, puzzle maps, bells, for example) are professionally manufactured according to traditional standards that have been tested over many years. However, even some of these are made by newer companies that do not fully understand the reason for certain details and so produce materials that are not as successful. There is a “materials committee” in Holland that oversees the quality of materials use in AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) school, for example.
Montessori teachers make many of their own practical life and language material instead of buying them—as they learn to do in their training, depending on where in the world they live. They gather practical life materials piece by piece. This is an important process that gives a unique quality to each classroom that expresses the culture, and ideas of beauty in each community—instead of all classrooms looking alike with no personal touches.
Materials in the classroom, without being used correctly by a trained teacher, do not create the desired outcomes achieved in an authentic Montessori class. For example: the math materials have been used to teach a concept sensorially thus helping a child to make the abstraction. Educational materials in the Montessori method serve a very different purpose than in traditional education where the textbooks are ordered, and the teacher learns how to use them. This difference is because in Montessori the child learns from the environment, and it is the teacher’s job to put the child in touch with the environment, not to “teach” the child. Thus, the creation of the environment and selection of materials is done mostly by the teacher and is very important.
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