When you decide to observe a Montessori class, you are taking an important step toward deciding on your child’s education. The reality is that you can read all day long about the Montessori Method and still have questions about how it is applied in a real-life classroom. Observing a Montessori class will help you take the knowledge that you already have about the Montessori philosophy and see it in action. As you prepare to observe a Montessori class, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
You are not in a typical classroom setting
If your own educational experience was in a traditional classroom setting, then you have a certain image in your head of how a classroom looks. For many people, that image includes desks lined up in rows with students seated quietly listening to the teacher or working on some type of worksheet. That is not the image you will see when you observe a Montessori classroom! Montessori classrooms are designed around the needs of the students. Young students need to be able to move around and engage multiple senses to learn effectively. The design of the Montessori classroom takes the needs of the child into account and provides opportunities for students to learn in a variety of ways. When you observe a Montessori class, you will quickly discover that you are not in a ‘typical’ classroom setting.
Students often work individually or in small groups
As you prepare for a class observation, keep in mind that the Montessori Method approaches teaching differently than other philosophies. Students in the Montessori classroom often work individually or in small groups. They are given options when it comes to what and how they learn. You will notice stations set up throughout the room where students go and engage in a variety of activities. Students have more flexibility in the Montessori classroom, but that does not result in an increased level of problems. Students can focus and work much longer when they have a say in how and what they learn. Many observers are shocked to see how long young students are capable of focusing on a task.
There is more opportunity for individualized instruction
The role of the teacher in the Montessori classroom looks different than the role of the teacher in a public classroom. Montessori teachers have more opportunities to provide students with individualized instruction. Montessori classrooms are intentionally kept small, so teachers can have meaningful interactions with each child and create individualized learning plans. This design allows students at all different levels to flourish in the Montessori classroom.
When you see the Montessori Method in action during a class observation, you will understand the design of the classroom and tenets of the philosophy more fully. At Fountainhead Montessori, we strongly encourage anyone considering Montessori education to schedule a time to observe a class.