Career Story: Montessori Preschool Teacher

Montessori Preschool Teacher

Job Title: Montessori Preschool Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a privately owned and operated Montessori pre-school.

Education: BS, Nutrition, Framingham State College •• Montessori training certificate, American Montessori Society

Previous Experience: I was a dietician for a number of years, before I switched to teaching pre-school.

Job Tasks: I am employed as a lead teacher in a Montessori preschool. There are 34 children in our school all between the ages of 2.9-6 years old. There are a director, another lead teacher and two assistant teachers at the school who all share teaching responsibilities.

On an average day, I arrive at school early and start to ready the classroom. I make sure that all the materials we'll be using are in order and that the classroom is basically clean. I gather stuff that I'll be using at circle time and prepare my lesson for the day. As the children arrive, they join me in the circle. Circle time varies each day. We sing songs, review letters and numbers, play educational games, review our Spanish words and numbers and so on. When all the children have arrived we commence with songs and prayer. Then I present a lesson to the children from one of our curriculum areas (language, math, geography, science, sensorial). After the lesson is over, the classroom divides into two groups of seventeen children. Each one lead teacher and an assistant assigned to it.

At this point, the children choose work from any area of the classroom they want and I give lessons to them individually or in groups. I make a note of what each of them's doing and what they're working on. I pay attention to how they work, what work they choose, who their friends are and how their understanding seems to be developing. I intervene when I need to and help the children solve problems. I listen and provide assistance. I also take them to the bathroom. And throughout the day, I answer the phone and talk with the director and staff.

At 11AM, weather permitting, we head outside. Half of the children are dismissed to their parents directly from the playground a half an hour later, when I bring them to their cars and talk to their parents about how things are going. The other half of the children stay for lunch, and after lunch they have rest time. I put on quiet music and lay them out on mats. After a half an hour of rest and a bathroom break, we have reading time. The group is divided into two, and I read to them in turn. After reading time, the director and an assistant and I are the only ones left, apart from the children, and we spend the remainder of the day helping the children to write "journals," improve their reading and do some map work. A big part of the Montessori program is geography and map-making. Finally, at 2:40, we gather to sing a few songs and have some movement. We share work and discuss and review concepts that we talked about earlier. We take the children back out onto the playground and dismiss them at 3pm to their parents. With all the children gone, I vacuum the floors and wipe down the tables and generally straighten things up.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my day is the children. I am blessed to work with children everyday and they bring me much joy. I enjoy listening to them, talking with them, working with them and helping them learn. The next best part of my day is teaching. I love to present new thoughts and ideas and help the children to understand. I love to sing songs, read books and find different ways to help children learn new things.

The worst part of my job is cleaning, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, dishes, etc. It is also sometimes difficult dealing with the adults in charge. Having to listen to and cooperate with the director can be challenging.

Job Tips: You have to have a real love and understanding of the Montessori philosophy. You have to really love kids and love being around children all day long. You have to be able to understand, cooperate with and communicate with parents of all kinds. You have to be able to work cooperatively with your director and other teachers. And you have to realize that every place that you work will have some things that you just don't love. You just have to decide what you can and cannot live with.

Additional Thoughts: The Montessori philosophy is different from traditional educational philosophies. The child is allowed a freedom of choice in the classroom, the idea being they'll be drawn to things they either need or are sensitive to. once they satisfied the need -- so the reasoning goes -- they'll move on to other areas, growing at their own pace. I respect this philosophy and I feel fortunate to be able to provide this environment and opportunity for our children.

If you're considering working with children, be sure you really love it. There is nothing worse than a pre-school teacher who doesn't enjoy being around kids.

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