The standards for teachers in private education can vary much more than the standards set forth for public teachers. Because of this, it is important to learn about the education and training required for the teachers at the private schools you are considering. If you are looking at Montessori education for your child you will find that the head teacher in the classroom is required to have a specific set of credentials. Montessori classrooms often have assistants that also have specialized training.
The head teacher in the Montessori classroom is primarily responsible for student observation, developing individualized learning plans, and maintaining the learning environment. Student observation is the way that the teacher evaluates student progress and gains important information to develop individualized learning plans. Part of the training that the head teacher in the Montessori classroom receives is on how to effectively observe student learning and progress. The classroom observation helps the teacher develop a learning plan and activities for each student. This model is a core part of the self-paced and self-directed philosophy of Montessori education. In the state of California, the head teacher in a Montessori classroom is required to have Montessori licensing as well as units for California state licensing. At Fountainhead Montessori School (FMS), many of the head teachers also have a bachelors degree or above. As you look into the credentials of the teachers at the Montessori school you are considering, ask if they received education certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). Teacher education programs backed by the AMS and MACTE will provide the highest levels of Montessori teacher education.
The assistants in the Montessori classroom provide additional sets of eyes and hands for the head teacher. All assistants at Fountainhead Montessori School are Montessori or alternatively educated to work in child development and/or early education. The head teacher and site director provide additional training to assistants in student observation and the maintenance of the learning environment. In addition, at FMS classroom assistants participate in regular staff development workshops to deepen and expand their knowledge of the Montessori method. Many head teachers start out in an assistant role as they work on their Montessori and state licensing credentials.
It is important to remember that each Montessori school is different. While any school that is called Montessori should follow the standards outlined by the founder, Maria Montessori, the reality is that the programs can vary widely. Ask the school you are considering about the training, education, and credentials of the head teacher and assistants in the classroom. You can learn more about what you should expect from a Montessori teacher from the American Montessori Society and the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education.