In a Montessori classroom the teacher is an observer, follower, and guide who brings wisdom, consideration, and experience to the child’s academic, social, and intellectual exploration. This approach demands special professionals confident and skilled enough to allow the child to be an active participant in his or her learning. It also means that all school decisions are driven by what is best for the children.
Each classroom is prepared specially for children and the adult has a greater responsibility that goes beyond just teaching. Always thoughtful and observant, the adult in this community acts as a dynamic link between the child and the specially designed materials and presentations that meet their needs and interests at just the right moment. This new role, different then the conventional teacher’s, requires the aid and support of a structured approach to observe and evaluate the learning process. Instead of actively directing the learning process, the adult is trained to be responsive at the optimum moment and have the patience to observe and protect the child while they are engaged in self-directed learning. In a Montessori classroom the adult is careful to time and guide her intervention with respect to individual needs and interests.
The adults are quick to praise and slow to criticize. The role of the adult is to guide the child to activity that is within his ability, and that approach engenders a growing confidence that is based on a series of successes. No rewards or punishments are used to motivate the child. Genuine pride that comes from self-accomplishment is enough. The adult sets a positive tone, and always strives to be confident, firm, fair, consistent, and yet friendly. Expectations are clearly established and community guidelines that are reasonable, well defined, and clearly understood are consistently and fairly enforced.
When you have solved the problem of controlling the attention of the child, you have solved the entire problem of their education.
– Maria Montessori