The role of the teacher in the Montessori classroom is unique. Often called “Directress” or “Guide” the teacher in the Montessori learning environment is not the sole imparter of knowledge but rather her role is that of facilitator, mentor, resource, observer, and friend. She strives to create a learning environment of meaningful activities designed to nurture self-confidence, independence, creativity, and curiosity. She encourages children to ask questions, think for themselves, develop internal motivation and discipline, but also models respect and caring for others, courtesy and grace, and assists children in becoming joyful learners.
It is the responsibility of the Directress to observe her students, getting to know each of their individual personalities, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, as well as interests, and to then design individualized lessons which will challenge and inspire them. She teaches lessons to small groups of students which are designed to capture their interest and motivate them to engage in further independent discovery employing either the materials within the classroom or through research beyond the school walls. The Directress encourages students to research their interests, analyze what they have learned, come to their own conclusions, and share their findings through oral presentation. She sets clear and consistent expectations and rules which helps her students to internalize boundaries and develop greater self-discipline which leads to greater freedom in the classroom. It is her role as coach and role model which helps her students to see mistakes as part of the learning process and to become creative problem solvers.
Through observation and communication, a close bond develops between the Directress and her student which allows her to foster a truly sincere relationship with her students based on mutual respect and an appreciation of each child’s uniqueness. She not only maintains the academic environment and facilitates learning, but helps children to find their place in the world, their individual purpose. It is her ultimate goal to help children reach their unique human potential.
“The teacher must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself.” – Dr. Maria Montessori