Montessori Teacher Preparation Programs (the policy talk term) across the country are starting new cohorts in the next week or two. This is an exciting time to be participating as a program director, an instructor, and, especially, a student.
The opportunities for our Montessori community are many- more schools need more teachers; states’ Professional Registries and Departments of Education are recognizing alternatives to traditional education programs; and policy makers at the state and federal levels are developing initiatives to evaluate teachers and the programs that prepared them.
This can be an opportunity, as self reflective Montessorians, to assess the preparation of Montessori teachers. Having recently stumbled upon an Accreditation Handbook from ACCESS (The Accreditation Council for Childhood Education Specialist Schools) from 1983, it was interesting to read the standards for program entrance (a Bachelor’s degree for all levels), the 300 hours of academic course work, and the specific program requirements for a 540 hour internship (including ratios, mixed ages, and materials) and reflect on changes over the past 30 years. Montessori Teacher Preparation Programs can now be accredited by a national organization (macte.org) recognized by the US Department of Education.
What are states’ looking for as they recognize qualified teachers? As the numbers of students considered “at risk,” “low-income,” “culturally diverse” and identified with special needs increases, professional educators with demonstrated competencies in classroom management, skills to work with all students (ELL, special needs), culturally responsive teaching techniques, and parent involvement, and community resource partnerships are required. For Montessori schools to become increasingly recognized as providing a high quality education, and for parents to be assured their children are receiving fully implemented Montessori education, Montessori credentialed teachers must be able to demonstrate these competencies to be recognized as professional educators.
Montessori Teacher Preparation Programs have a unique model to share. The amount of “clinical experience” (internship), courses in pedagogy and content, and a mentoring component in preparing teachers is one more way that Montessori education can be considered innovative. This is yet another opportunity for the Montessori community to contribute to the greater educational landscape.
For more on Professional Registries, state educator’s licensure, and advocating for recognition of the Montessori credential, goes to Resources- Policy, Regulation, Accountability. www.montessori-now.com