Becoming a Montessori Teacher

With the steady growth in the number and enrollment of Montessori schools around the world, certified Montessori teachers are in great demand.

Montessori is not simply a method of teaching children to read; it is a philosophy of life!

Montessori teachers come from a wide range of backgrounds. In many States a four-year college degree is a requirement to teach at a private or public school at all age levels; however, except for areas where even private school teachers are required to hold a state teaching credential, it is not necessary for prospective teachers to have first graduated with a degree in education. Many Montessori teachers studied another field first. Some states allow teachers of “preschool” children to teach without the requirement of a college degree. Because these requirements vary from one place to another, prospective teachers need to check with either local schools or the state department of education to determine what the requirements are where they would like to teach.

Many Montessori teachers began first as parents with children enrolled in a Montessori school. Often the very factors that drew enthusiastic parents to a Montessori school in the first place offer the possibility of a professional life beyond their roles as parents. It is common for enthusiastic parents to approach their children’s school, or they are themselves approached, about the possibility of taking a course in Montessori teacher education.

Montessori Teacher Education Programs

Montessori teacher education programs are available from hundreds of colleges and independent institutes across America and Canada. For the internationally minded, courses are available in many other countries as well.

Courses usually involve a year of study. In the U.S. many courses are organized into summer institutes, which can involve one, two or more summers of intensive study, followed by a supervised year-long practicum/student teaching experience. Some courses run during the school year. Each model has its loyal advocates, and selection of one over the other is a matter of personality and preference.

Montessori teacher education programs are typically offered at the infant-toddler (birth to age 2), early childhood (ages 3-6), lower elementary (ages 6-9), upper elementary (ages 9-12), and secondary levels (ages 12-15 and ages 15-18).

Most courses in the United States require a college degree; although, students who have yet to complete their undergraduate diploma may be able to take a Montessori teacher education course and receive a provisional Montessori teaching certificate. Tuition will vary from one program to another.

Accreditation

Unfortunately, the quality of Montessori teacher education programs can vary. One basic consideration is the credibility of the diploma received upon completion. Since 1990, the United States Department of Education has recognized the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE).  Accreditation by MACTE is recognized as the essential sign of a program’s credibility.

There are several Montessori organizations that accredit Montessori teacher education programs in the United States, and many more in other countries. Most, but not all, of their programs are also accredited by the MACTE Commission on Accreditation. They include the American Montessori Society (AMS), the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI), and the Pan American Montessori Society (PAMS). A number of smaller Montessori associations and a number of independent programs also offer accredited Montessori teacher education programs.

Distance Learning

Several organizations around the world offer distance learning programs or correspondence courses, which allow students to complete most, if not all, of their Montessori teacher education studies on an independent basis. Keep in mind, that teachers in the United States normally graduate from colleges or teacher education institutes that offer a traditional face-to-face academic program. If you are considering a distance-learning program, you should understand that a number of states do not accept these credentials. Individual schools may also be unwilling to consider graduates of a distance-learning program. It is always a good idea to check with several schools where you would like to teach to determine if the Montessori teacher education program that you are considering will meet their standards.

Montessori Teacher Salaries

Salaries for teachers in independent/private Montessori schools are generally acceptable, but are normally below those offered by local public schools. Many teachers feel that these lower salaries and benefits are more than offset by greater job satisfaction and freedom from the paperwork and bureaucracy found in many public-school systems. Salaries are often calculated on a scale based on degrees, experience and duties. Montessori teachers are generally in short supply, and in many situations certified teachers will find several schools competing for their services.

Do Your Homework

If you are searching for a Montessori teacher education program, you might also wish to contact the Montessori schools in your area. Through them, you will obtain information as to what is available in your region and what form of certification they require — especially if you are hopeful of obtaining employment with them in the future. There are many good teacher education programs available in the United States and abroad. In the years to come, there will undoubtedly be even more, as the demand for Montessori teachers increases.

With great sadness, we must report that Dr. Feland Meadows passed away this morning. The world today has lost a man of legendary heart and love for Montessori, his family, and friends.

On her way to the airport, Sibley Alkon Meadows said that the family truly appreciates the outpouring of love and concern from the Montessori World.

We will post more details on Facebook and arrangements as they become available. We wish Joan, Sibley, and the entire Meadows family peace and comfort at this time.

Dr. Teresa Turner and the PAMS Family

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