The Role of a Teacher in a Montessori Classroom
Montessori’s developed method of educating the natural characteristics which influenced a child to learn - The Role of a Teacher in a Montessori Classroom introduction. Her method is simply protecting these characteristics and allowing them to develop naturally. She believed that every child held the ability to learn but only needed to be shown or guided on how to correctly do so. The teachers role in the class room is to cater for these needs. Montessori believed that only a certain type of person suited the role of a Montessori teacher “The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena.
In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon” (Montessori, 2010, p54) . With these quality’s only could you be successful in the “phenomenon” of Montessori teaching. She believed that the teacher must be there to serve the child, a tool to be used to further the child’s education, and provide for the child’s natural urge to learn.
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The Teacher in a Montessori classroom must be specially trained in all aspects of Montessori. The teacher is the link between the child and the prepared environment and must provide for the child’s need for learning by guiding them and observing each child individually. At the ages 3-6 a child will be journeying though the sensitive periods the teacher must be able to serve the child correctly during these periods to enchase maximum learning for the child’s absorbent mind. The prepared environment in the class room must meet the need of the absorbent mind, sensitive periods and the developmental stages of the child. To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely” (Montessori, 1982, p. 110). This is not created by chance but though the well thought out process of the development of a Montessori classroom. Allowing the child access to self correcting materials, child sized equipment, etc. , gives them maximum freedom to learn in a safe clean environment, that has been created by their teacher. The sensitive periods are stages a young child goes though during their development.
The First Six years of a child’s life are the most important as they are so sensitive at this time. These periods such as order, language and movement must be catered for by the environment as well as the teacher. With order everything in a Montessori classroom must have a specific place e. g. on the shelf or on a table. A young child desires consistency. Disruptions to this consistency can cause distress or upset to a child. This can result in tantrums and unnecessary in having order and rules it will help to protect the child from distress though the sensitive period of order.
The teacher has the responsibility to keep the classroom perfect. All material should be in its place, kept clean and to repaired or replace works which have been damaged or broken. “Material should always be beautiful, shinning and in good repair, with nothing missing, so that it looks new to the child, and is complete ready for use”(Montessori, 1946, p 87). In doing this you are allowing the child to go about their work without interruption or confusion due to unsuitable materials. It is also important for the aesthesis in the classroom to be suitable. Nothing should be over stimulating.
The physical environment that a child is placed in must enable the child’s development. Items in the class room must be child sized. This will create a better self image and build confidence within the child. The child will become less dependent on adults. The colours in the classroom must be neutral which will calm the children and in contrast the colours of the works or items on the shelves should be brightly coloured to attract the attention of the child. This should be all be thought of before introducing children to the environment and this would be done so by the teacher of the class.
A Montessori teacher is not the main focus in a classroom. The teachers role is to guide the children’s focus to the materials and works they have prepared for the class. This then is the first duty of an educator: to stir up life but leave it free to develop. ” (Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, p111) The Teacher must create interest in learning for the children in the classroom. The Montessori teachers role is to encourage independence in the children. Often a teacher will need to step back and prevent themselves from provide answers. We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master. ”(Montessori,1949,p14) This will allow the child to learn though their own mistakes and provide their own answers themselves. A teacher must stand back and allow the child to work themselves. A teacher must remain neutral in their response to a child’s success. It is important for a teacher to hold back from encouraging a child and it is natural to want to do so. Praise may seem as if you are boosting a child’s confidence but in doing so may cause problems. Such well-meant praise is enough to do damage; the child may not look at work again for weeks” (Montessori, p88). The child may also associate praise with their behaviour and feel if they are not being praised they are not succeeding or doing well. It is a difficult position as it is instinct to praise when a child has done well but a Montessori teacher must be able to do so correctly. In Montessori it is taught to the teacher that it is the child’s right to freedom but within limits. “If everyone did exactly as they pleased chaos would reign, then nobody could do as they pleased.
Freedom would effectively be gone. ”(Walls, 2006, p4). These limits are kept my the basic rule of respect By treating others with courtesy and care it will be expected back. Making this happen with young children will takes patience from the teacher. The rules should be told and shown to the class, this way a child can self correct their behaviour and lean from themselves. By enforcing this the teacher has taught the children to respect others and given them the gift of patience as they learn of turn taking etc. The role of a Montessori teacher is complex and has many layers to it.
The teacher’s role must be an observer as well as an educator. The teacher must cater for the needs of the child. Be the link between the prepared environment. The techer must have a complete understanding of Montessori to be successful within the class room, as a child’s mind is so absorbent at the ages of three to six, Irreversible damage may be cause without this. References: Issah, M (2010) How I Feel about Being a Montessori Teacher. Montessori Life. Jensen, S. (2004) One Individual at a Time: Instruction in the Montessori Classroom.
Montessori Life. Malm, B. (2004) Constructing Professional Identities: Montesssori teachers’ voices and vision. Carfax Publishing. Montessori, M. (2009) Absorbent Mind. B. N. Publishing. Montessori, M. (1986) Discovery of a Child. Ballantine Books. Montessori, M. (1946) Education for a New World, Kalakshetra Publications. Montessori, M. (1982) The Secret of Childhood. Ballantine Books. Schneider, M. (2011) Montessori Teacher Education and Alternative Delivery. Montessori Life. Walls, C. (2006) At The Heart of Montessori II. Dublin Original Writing.