Role of teacher in a Montessori
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Teaching is a Cooperative Art just as farming and healing. It means that in teaching the primary cause of learning taking place is not the act of teaching, or the activity of the teacher. Learning takes place due to the natural ability of the human mind to learn and grow. The teacher’s role is to simply act as a cooperative artist in this production of learning. Maria Montessori thus used the title “directress” to explain the role of the teacher in a Montessori. The teacher is not the primary cause of learning she is rather a facilitator and a guide. They do not simply transfer lessons and curriculums. By preparing a suitable environment, observing the children and giving brief lessons according to the interest and need of the child, the teacher in a Montessori helps children learn independently.
Mostly children in Montessori’s are working on their own or in small groups. The teacher’s role is three fold. She has to prepare an environment which is meant to facilitate a child’s independence. He should be able to select work freely from activities that appeal to them. Material is added and removed by teachers over time based on her observation of the children.
The teacher is a Montessori has to be a keen observer of the children in her class. Maria Montessori herself worked and developed her theories using this method and her findings are based on her observations and experiences with children. By observing the needs, progress and sensitive periods of a child they are able to modify the environment and her lesson plan accordingly. She is a dynamic link between the prepared environment and the children.
Montessori teachers are supposed to give brief lessons to children. While keeping the lessons as brief as possible the purpose is to bring the child in to a state of mind which helps them further work with materials on their own. Lessons are based on the simplest information and include observing the child while he is exploring, going to the child and taking consent to work with the material, taking the material to a workplace with the help of a child, telling a few ground rules, giving a brief and live demonstration of what can be done with it and leaving the child to continue work on his own. The teacher presents the materials and lessons with precision. She keeps in mind the three lesson period and uses it for the introduction of new concepts.
She introduces new concepts and objects, gets a child acquainted with it and then asks him to recall the knowledge gained. Initial introductory lessons are brief after which children repeat these ideas and concepts for days, weeks and months until it becomes completely ingrained. However, a teacher must always allow the child to learn himself at his own pace. In this manner the teacher in a Montessori bases most of her own teaching on her observations of the child.
Montessori teachers are thus primarily meant to systematically observe children and work according to their needs. As a result of this they are constantly experimenting and modifying the prepared environment so that it matches the child’s need. They prepare an environment which helps the child work and learn independently. Additionally, they must evaluate the effectiveness of their work and the design of the environment. They observe and evaluate each child’s individual progress. A teacher must be warm, supportive, stable and non-judgmental in her acceptance of the child. She must respect and protect the students’ independence and understand when to step in and set limits or help and when not to interfere. They act as a link of communication between children and help them learn how to communicate their thoughts to adults.
Through keeping a close eye on the progress of the child, the teacher then communicates each child’s progress to their parents. In teaching grace, courtesy, manners and ideal behavior to children the teacher acts as the model. She must herself exhibit these traits in order to be an educator to children. Teachers are also considered peace educators by being teaching courtesy and conflict resolution to children. And as a diagnostician can interpret patterns of growth, development and behavior the teacher must understand the child and make necessary referrals and suggestions to parents.