Methods of Instruction
Methods of Instruction
An authentic Montessori program stresses the importance of responding appropriately to each child’s specific strengths and needs in all areas of development and learning. The Montessori teacher must “follow the child” by using scientific observation techniques. Through careful observation and recordkeeping, the teacher is able to plan appropriate sequences of lessons and remediation that responds more specifically to each child’s, or group’s need at any given moment. Although students have freedom to choose to study what interests them, they are also expected to learn and master core academic skills. It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that each student receives a well-balanced education and that they continually move toward mastery of the established minimum expectations in all areas of their development. Appropriate and mindful preparation of the teacher and the learning environment are at the root of all planning and instruction.
It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure the classroom is prepared so that it is responsive to the children’s growing awareness and consciousness. It helps make them independent of the teacher’s will and personal agenda. Learning materials are grouped according to subject areas and are displayed, as much as possible, in a logical sequence—from most simple & concrete to most complex & abstract. Everything in the environment should be for the student’s justifiable use and should draw the child in and feed their interests. Teacher’s spaces are integrated into the environment. Order of the learning materials maximizes the possibility of students completing specific cycles of activity in using materials. Montessori equipment and other learning materials assist in each child’s conceptual learning and the development of abstract thinking. The Montessori classroom environment allows and encourages students to use a variety of learning approaches and styles. Many of the Montessori materials isolate for difficulty of specific skills and concepts, and have a control of error allowing children the independence to check their own work and self-correct. The teacher encourages students to have a sense of ownership and responsibility toward the classroom. Multi-age groupings allow opportunities for mentoring and diversity within small instructional groups. Typically, students spend 3 years in the same classroom which allows the teacher to better gauge progress and developmental readiness for moving to the next level. The teacher really gets to know children’s behavior patterns, and can affect them accordingly.
Montessori teachers continually enhance the rich curriculum in order to respond to the current child’s or classroom community’s needs and interests. There is a fundamental belief that children learn best when they can construct their own knowledge and make their own discoveries and connections. Teachers present lessons in a variety of ways to individuals, small groups, and at times to the whole class. It is critical that the teacher prepares and presents all lessons in such a way that children are inspired and motivated to do independent follow-up and practice. Typically, Montessori teachers present new concepts by telling a story, presenting an impressionistic lesson which may include concrete props or materials that illustrate key concepts, or by posing interesting questions that promote thoughtful discussion and motivation to learn more. For example, the teacher may share a riveting story about Pythagoras prior to presenting the decanomial layout (the layout of the 1-10 multiplication table using colorful beaded material) in mathematics. Students not only learn the various formulas contained within the decanomial layout, but they have a historical connection that could spark their interest to learn more about Pythagoras, other Greek philosophers, ancient Greece, other mathematical concepts, etc. By presenting lessons this way, children are better able to internalize, and are more prepared for independent practice which leads to the mastery of the concept.