The Preparation of Teacher


This article is also available in Spanish.


Enjoy these thoughts on "The Preparation of the Teacher" from Portland Director of Primary Training, Sarah Werner Andrews. Accompanying the text is a timeline of pictures highlighting the journey of the Montessori teacher - from the training year to the seasoned professional. 


The first and perhaps most important thing for you to understand in terms of the preparation of the adult is that this is an on-going process. It is useful to think of this training course as the first step in your preparation, not the end of the journey.

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With time and experience, you will continue to grow in your understanding and knowledge. Every child you work with will teach you something about yourself, about child development, and about education. You may have thought you were here because of what you could give the child, and you do have something to offer the child, but you will find it is what the child gives to you, that is of greater value. Time and time again, as the children reveal their true nature, you will witness human beings as they were meant to be. In their open, bright faces, you will see the real meaning of hope for the future, and that is a gift that changes forever how we view children and education.


Montessori compares this change to the difference between listening to a science professor and believing everything he says, and the experience of verifying for yourself that what he says is true. But in order to see the proof that Montessori discovered, we have to prepare ourselves to see as a scientist sees. We must have a supportive environment and the prerequisite knowledge, but also the love and respect for the subject of our “research” – the child. (Montessori, The Advanced Montessori Method, Vol.1, “The Preparation of the Teacher,” p. 100-101, Clio)

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What we give you here in the training course is the prerequisite knowledge to meet each child and be prepared to receive what that child has to teach you. This preparation has three levels: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. These levels are prepared together, and are integrated through experience with children...

...The preparation for being a Montessori teacher begins here in the training year, but cannot be complete until you see for yourself, how the children make their own transformation to normalization.  As we see the children’s deviations fall away, we move from believing to knowing.  The certainty of knowing what the children are capable of gives us the strength to transform ourselves and become the “new educator” that can support the new child.  Montessori calls children “the teachers of love,”[1] and that is why when a child is born into a family, “his mother becomes a more beautiful woman and his father a better man.”

In a speech to the World Fellowship of Faiths in London, 1939, Montessori said,

“We are convinced that the child can do a great deal more for us, more than we can do for him.  We adults are rigid.  We remain in one place.  But the child is all motion.  He moves hither and thither to raise us far above the earth. Once I felt this impression very strongly, more deeply than ever before, and I took almost a vow to become a follower of the child as my teacher.  Then I saw before me the figure of the child, as those close to me now see and understand him.

We do not see him as almost everyone else does, as a helpless little creature lying with folded arms and outstretched body, in his weakness.  We see the figure of the child who stands before us with his arms held open, beckoning humanity to follow.”


[1] This, and the following quote, are found in Education and Peace, p. 119, Clio; and on p. 155, Kalakshetra.


Sarah Werner Andrews is an AMI Director of Training, consultant, examiner, and presenter at local, national, and international conferences. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance, an M.Ed. from Loyola University, AMI Primary and Elementary diplomas and is an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. Sarah began her work in Montessori education in 1987, with many years teaching experience at both the primary and elementary levels, as well as experience in administration. She is currently on the board of directors of the North American Montessori Teachers Association and Montessori Northwest. Sarah is a recipient of the Oregon Montessori Association Susie Huston Memorial Award for Outstanding Teaching, and a former OMA board member.  She and her husband, Dave, have lived in Portland since 1991, and have two wonderful sons, Julian and Evan, who are great reminders to listen, keep learning, and not take life too seriously. Sarah enjoys botany, music, croissants, a great book, historical documentaries, and the AMAZING story of the Bretz Floods.

Posted on September 19, 2017 and filed under From MNW Staff, Assistants to Infancy, Graduates, Primary, Theory, Elementary.