The Montessori approach uses a “trio of teachers.” The trio includes the community of children in a mixed-age grouping, the educational environment equipped with hands-on materials, and the adult guide (teacher.)
The Community of Children
Classroom communities consist of cross-age, cross-grade groupings in three-year developmental cycles. In these groupings children internalize what they have learned by teaching the younger children and by being mentors and role models. The children are encouraged to show mutual respect and empathy for others by working together towards common goals. This is the spirit of the community. The mixed age community creates conditions that foster individual diff erences as strengths, and promotes groupings of mixed abilities. These ongoing experiences develop social skills as a response to conditions, rather than through direct teaching intervention.
The Montessori Learning Environment
The Montessori learning environment is thoughtfully conceived and painstakingly prepared. The classrooms are refreshingly sensible in their approach to educating children. The learning environment is executed with elegance, simplicity, and good common sense. Maria Montessori wrote, “ Only practical experience and work lead to maturity…. Those children who have been able to work with their hands make headway in their development, and reach a strength of character which is conspicuous.” The fundamental characteristic of the Montessori environment is the prevailing order in the classroom. This order includes a neat and tidy work area, along with proper display of materials, but goes beyond to social conditions and the acceptance of constructive activity as the means for development.
The Montessori Guide (teacher)
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.
Greensboro Montessori School Directors and Directresses are experienced, certified professionals, many of whom have had rigorous Montessori training beyond undergraduate or graduate school. Greensboro Montessori School faculty are carefully selected on the basis of background, experience, training, and skills. In addition, Montessori trained teachers are specifically certified for the ages they teach, and as such there are separate diploma courses for early childhood, elementary, and adolescent Montessori education. This is unlike the common K-8 conventional certification for teachers.