Are there Teachers in a Montessori classroom?

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ “

Maria Montessori

Dr. Montessori referred to the teacher as a “Directress”.  This title differs considerably from the title and purpose of a teacher in a traditional school classroom.  The Directress is not a teacher because she does not directly impart knowledge to her students.  She guides, or directs the child, according to his own inner needs.

She is trained to be a keen observer, carefully monitoring and recognizing the individual interests and needs of each child and her daily work starts from her observations.  The Montessori Directress is the vital link between the child and the prepared environment (the classroom).

According to Aline Wolf in a Parent’s Guide to the Montessori Classroom (2009):

“In the Montessori Environment, there is no teacher’s desk as a focal point of attention because the stimulation for learning comes from the whole environment.  She is trained to recognize periods of readiness.  Sometimes she must divert a child who chooses material which is beyond his ability; at other times she must encourage a child who is hesitant.  Whenever a child makes a mistake, she refrains if possible, from intervening and allows him to discover his own error through further manipulations of the self-correcting  materials.”

The role of a Montessori Directress is to prepare a beautiful and enticing environment that provides a safe, calm, orderly and harmonious atmosphere which will reinforce the child’s independence and natural urge toward self-development.  She must carefully arrange the room with child size furnishings and must ensure that all the Montessori materials are beautifully displayed on low open shelves in an orderly fashion.

She carefully monitors the progress of each child and seeks to foster their natural development and curiosity through the child’s own choices.  The end result is a not just a child who is competent in knowledge and socialization – but also a child who has a greater sense of self-awareness and the confidence to be a self-learner.