The word “Directress” which is used today was first used in translation of the book The Montessori Method in 1912 by the American, Anne Everett George. If we look again at the meaning of the Directress referred to above, it is the perfect description of the Role of a Montessori Teacher. Not to tell the child what they should be doing but to guide them in the right direction in pursuit of self –understanding, knowledge, Independence and development into adulthood. For the role of a directress is an inactive one; as the active learning must come from the child.The Role of the Teacher The role of a Montessori Directress is the vital link between that of the child and the environment.
Under her guidance a child will develop both as a person and intellectually to reach their full potential and become the man of the future. “She is the main connecting link between the material, that is the objects, and the child”. Maria Montessori It is the Directress’ role is to prepare a beautiful and enticing environment which will welcome the child in and provide a safe, calm and peaceful atmosphere in which they can learn.She must carefully arrange the room with child size furnishings and must ensure that all the educational materials are on display for a child to see in an orderly fashion.
The apparatus should be stimulating, purposeful and invoke problem solving. They should be interesting to the child for them to explore. The Directress has numerous tasks to undertake but her primary goal is to observe the child and guide him through progression. She must observe the stage of the child and then select the apparatus for which he is ready and to present it to him in an enticing manner.The presentation should include returning the item to the shelf. If he has no interest, it maybe that the child is not ready and another item should be introduced.
The child is then free to use the materials independently within the constraints of the selected item. All the while, the observation is taking place; detailed notes should be taken for reference. These should help to establish whether the child is ready to move on to the next stage of development. She should have full knowledge of each piece of apparatus so that she is fully acquainted with it.She should experiment, putting herself in the place of the child and try to see how they would make discoveries and what their perceptions might be. As the Directress is now an adult, the ability to absorb unconsciously has lessened, as the conscious mind has matured, therefore any impressions they may make from this exercise would not be absolute.
She should have the patience to keep repeating the exercise so that she is able to “measure in herself the energy and endurance possessed by a child of a determined age”. Maria Montessori.The reason for doing this is so that the Directress would be able to decide the level of competency required for each piece of apparatus and know at what stage in a child’s development it should be demonstrated. In doing so too early, may upset their learning or if too late, may lead to boredom. This presentation is called “The Fundamental Lesson”.
The Directress should also instill a sense of order not only to the classroom and the materials within but also within the child itself. A child should know: * The basic rules of the classroom to aid in the calming peaceful atmosphere.These rules include that for learning. He should want to finalise his learning without simply giving up, out of appreciation for the environment. He should be aware that the apparatus is returned to the shelves and not be given to someone else.
He should also learn not take from another. A sense of patience should be expressed from the very start so that the child will wait for their turn.* That everything has a place and there is a place for everything. All materials should be returned to the shelves when finished with and that this completes an exercise. That all educational materials need to the cherished for use at a later date and should not be damaged. Each of the points raised above require the child to possess self-discipline: to behave respectfully in the environment, to finalise their exercise when working and not to give up, to wait patiently for their turn, to return an item when finished to ensure smooth running of a classroom and to respect and not damage the learning tools.
This self-discipline is a must when in the outside world. A Directress should also know when to assist and when to leave the child to work independently.This comes from careful observation. A child must never be interrupted or instructed how to complete an exercise as this would hamper the child’s learning.
Questions should be asked so that the child can offer solutions. He needs to find the answers himself to improve his confidence and self esteem and gain satisfaction for finding the end goal. Constant interruptions from a teacher will effect a child’s concentration and will prevent him from carrying out his work to its fullness. He needs to be left to work freely so that he can “have his own experience.The child of this age.
.. who develops by spontaneous work, following the guides of nature, cannot develop in this fashion with a teacher that teaches”. Maria Montessori. Not only will constant interruptions affect a child’s natural learning abilities but will become tiresome for him.
There are times however, when it is necessary to interrupt; when a child has yet to learn to concentrate or when another is being disruptive. Interruptions can take many forms and so a Directress must learn this skill. Praise or even a look might become a disruption and so care must be taken even whilst observing.During observation, the Directress should not only be assessing whether a child is ready to move on through the learning process but also to evaluate whether the apparatus on display has run its course and whether it should be replaced with a more advanced one.
A Montessori Teacher is trained to instruct one child at a time. The term for this is “following a child”. This means that she must present the educational tools individually. She must take interest in the person and support them through their learning experience and not judge or have any pre-conceived ideas of a child’s abilities.
Her knowledge of a child should be true and come from her findings whilst observing. She should not compare one child to another for a prepared environment is a non-competitive one which allows an individual to work at their own pace to reach their full potential. No two children are alike and at the same level of learning. It is said that a Montessori Teacher should know herself before she can become a successful directress.
“The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self. The training of a teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning ideas.It includes the training of the character; it is the preparation of the spirit” The Absorbent Mind. Maria Montessori. Below are examples of Montessori Lessons throughout the ages. It shows how the method of teaching remains unchanged.
Italy circa 1910 giving a lesson in geometrics 1913 1951 Present Day This quotation means that a teacher must fully understand her own abilities, her character/ personality and imagination/experiences and then to understand the differences between that of an adult and a child.She must be free of all prejudices and to see each child as a unique individual waiting to develop and be ready to take a passive role in the classroom by letting the child take the lead. All these tasks are not easy and will take considerable practise. The teacher only becomes active when presenting the learning tools then her role is very different. She must briefly demonstrate the new materials in a clear and simple manner so as not to detract from the attractiveness of the apparatus. Then return to the passive for the observation of the child.
It might also be beneficial to teach with an assistant or another directress. You would then be able to confer and get a different perspective of each child, who may have seen something that could have been missed. All for the betterment of the child. To be a successful teacher, she needs to know (using quotes from Maria’s Montessori’s Absorbent Mind) “that if a child is to develop, he must do things for himself. ” “The basis of our teaching is that the child..
.. must acquire physical independence by being sufficient unto himself. ”“We must help the child to act by himself, will for himself, think for himself. If we can do of the above then, the teacher will see: “The manifestations of the spirit” “The worker that never tires, the calm child, the child who seeks maximum effort, who tries to help the weak, who knows how to respect others and shows us characteristics which make us know him as the true child. ” If, as a teacher you have the privilege to see the above, then as teacher you will experience: “joy” “Deep love” “A spiritual connection with the children” And can say: “I have helped this life to achieve its creation” And know that it has been a job well done, for the future of mankind.
If adults could adopt the behaviour of a child, through his independent learning’s, then perhaps the world could be a better place in the future – peace for all. Conclusion In summation, the role of the teacher is quite a difficult one. Although she may be perceived as not actively contributing to the class, her passive role is far more demanding. Not only to have to tailor the perfect learning environment that is clean and tidy with all the didactical materials in pristine condition, but she must also make sure that her appearance mirrors that of her environment.She too must be clean and neat so that she can be the required role model to her students, not only in her outwardly presentation but also in her manner; the way she behaves and the way she speaks are all part and parcel of the sense of order that she must instill in her classroom. This sense of order includes that of the materials but also the conduct that is required when in class and when working.
All of which is taught by the directress for the appropriate ambience to be achieved. She must know herself, be humble and have patience, be open minded and without prejudice and want to grow as a person.She must also not be judgemental and have the ability to see each child as a unique individual, waiting to “reveal themselves” and so not compare or liken them to another. As each child is different, they will develop at their own pace to reach their full potential. She must also be able to recognise that the teacher’s role is secondary to that of the child and must take the lead from them rather than lead themselves as in a conventional school and in doing so learn from the child to improve their own skills as directress.The Montessori Materials are also not the only thing that should call to a child as so too much the teachers voice.
When presenting the materials for the first time (or when the “Fundamental Lesson” takes place) the directress should also use a tone to her voice that entices the child so that he becomes more interested. Her final role is the observation that is required. The reason that her role is a passive one is so that she is able to painstakingly observe each child so as to aid future development, being careful not to be seen to be observing as even this can be taken as an intervention.Note taking is a must for future reference. She needs to learn each child’s characteristics, their level of knowledge and achievements, and understand their requirements for progression.
The Directress must want to observe the child, out of “scientific curiosity”. To be able to provide all that is necessary for the child to develop and then stand back and watch it happen without intervention, unless required. Intervention is however required when a child has not yet learnt concentration or is annoying another individual, then it is necessary to interrupt.If concentration has not been achieved, then a teacher must do anything that is required in order to gain some interest, for example: songs, rhymes, stories etc. This observation also includes the Montessori Materials; have they become damaged or run their course and require advancement to the next stage. Maria Montessori sees the above as three stages, all of which have already been covered: Stage one is the care of the environment, the materials and the presentation of the teacher.
Stage two would be classed as the development of the teacher; how she would deal with the child before they have mastered the ability to concentrate, to hone her skills of intervention or know when to leave if intervention is not required. The third and final stage is the directress’ role once concentration in a child happens; her fundamental lesson presentation, the observation that is required in order for the child to progress and develop both intellectually and spiritually, her note taking.