Training to Be a Better Montessori Teacher
With the increasing popularity of Montessori education in China, credentialed Montessori teachers are in constant demand from newly opened and also established Montessori schools. International and bilingual Montessori schools need even more specialized, highly capable teachers.
It is under these circumstances that Elizabeth Park and her colleagues from Chaminade University of Honolulu visited Beijing for the first time and attended the International Montessori Conference in Beijing on May 28 to 31, trying to introduce their Masters of Education Degree in Montessori training program into China.
According to Elizabeth, Chaminade University has been running Montessori training programs since 1974. A few years ago when the Montessori Association Council for Teacher Education Programs decided that they were going to allow pilot programs for distance training, Chaminade University was one of the first to take part in the pilot.
Currently, they are offering training programs in two areas. One is called the Masters of Education with Montessori Emphasis, which is for teachers who already have their Montessori credentials. The second one is for someone who wants to get their master’s degree along with their Montessori credentials. In this case they would take the Montessori credential courses, along with their student practicum, and then they would get their master’s degree by taking those five additional core courses.
Courses are organized into different levels. The theory component is the first level, which requires the trainee to do child development, Montessori philosophy, etc.; the next level would be the methods course, demonstrating exactly how to handle math materials, language materials, as well as the practical skills in all those material areas. The third level is divided up into two groups: for those who do not need the credential, they would skip the student teaching and just go into the master of education core course; but those who do want the credential will do the student teaching for one year, and after that if they want the master’s degree, they would do the master courses.
“Because all of our master’s degree core courses are delivered both online as well as on the ground, students from all locations have the option to maybe spend a term in Hawaii, attending the on-ground course, or they could do it wherever they want,” added Elizabeth.
The master’s course is about a year long, depending how many courses they take per term, and it goes by a quarter system with four terms in a year.
Because it’s a master’s level course, they would need to have some form of bachelor’s degree, but not necessarily Montessori.
According to Michael Fassiotto, Ph.D., Assistant to the Provost at Chaminade University of Honolulu, a potential cooperation with Shanghai Distance Education Group is being undertaken so as to present its degree program in China in 2010 or sooner.
Given the time and opportunity, Ruth Novales said she “definitely will pursue further training so as to get a Master’s degree in Montessori education!”
Ruth took the 2.5 to 6 year old age group (Casa) certification training at Etonkids Montessori Teacher Training Academy (EMTTA) in the summer of 2006, one year after her first taste of Montessori when she joined Etonkids International Kindergarten as an English Specialist in a Montessori Casa classroom in February 2005.
Being totally immersed in a Montessori environment during this time allowed her to see firsthand the benefits of a Montessori education to the child. She was captivated with how the learning took place, amazed by the progress she witnessed in the children and absolutely loved the rapport that developed between the children and herself in the Montessori environment!
“I have always loved teaching and teaching in a traditional school did not bring this fulfillment to me. When I experienced Montessori, I knew this was what I was looking for,” said Ruth.
She tremendously enjoyed the training and actually looked forward to each session, notwithstanding the long hours!
“The training at EMTTA helped me be fully equipped and confident in setting up a Montessori environment, become more sensitive and observant of the child and consequently prepare the right plan, lessons, and materials for each child,” said Ruth. “And the Montessori Method works amazingly! My teenage daughter has had several opportunities to work with Montessori children in my previous campus and she would be astounded at how proactive, intelligent, independent and witty they are!”
The first class of Montessori teachers including Ruth graduated in 2007, the same year that EMTTA became accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
According to Dr. Marlene Barron, EMTTA Standards Advisor, there are currently 3 accredited Montessori teacher education programs in China with 1 in Shanghai and 2 in Beijing. EMMTA is the first indigenous Montessori teacher education program in China.
It was announced in early June that EMTTA is accepting final applications for the 2009 summer program.
Two courses are offered: the Infant-Toddler [IT] course focuses on children from birth to 3 and the Early Childhood course prepares adults to work with children from the ages of 2 ½ through 6. Both programs are offered in English and Chinese.
Course cycles include Orientation, Academic, and Practicum Phases.
The Infant-Toddler program is a minimum of 280 academic hours conducted in the summer [5 weeks total] with three seminars during the school year. Qualified candidates complete all course requirements and a practicum of at least 400 hours over one academic year in an approved classroom.
The Early Childhood program is a minimum of 350 academic hours conducted in the summer [7 weeks total] with three seminars during the school year. Qualified candidates who complete all course requirements and a practicum of at least 540 hours over one academic year in an approved classroom are recommended to the AMS for an early childhood credential.
The EMMTA course also consists of intensive summer workshops, weekend seminars, and practice labs, and culminates in a student-teaching internship. Paid internships are available throughout China for those who want to work and study concurrently.
A team teaching approach is taken at EMTTA, where English-speaking and Chinese-speaking faculty and field consultants have a wide range of skills and keep up-to-date on recent research in the fields of education and human growth and development.
As an AMS affiliated Montessori teacher education program, hands-on experience with children is required. This is usually done through a student teaching practicum that spans the school year from September to June.
Each course requires such components to be completed for certification as attendance and participation in classes and labs, written assignments, performance assessments, and research projects including a year-long project.
The EMTTA faculty works under the supervision of Dr. Marlene Barron whose career in Montessori education spans over 40 years as a teacher, head of School, author, and Montessori consultant all over the world. Also leading the program is Ms. Charmaine Soh, the founding Principal of Greentree Montessori School, founding Executive Director of the Chinese Montessori International, trainer with the Singapore Ministry of Education, and a frequent and popular speaker at conferences as well as a consultant to Kindergartens throughout Asia.
The minimum time frame for completion of a certification course is twelve months. The next cycle begins on 29 June 2009 and ends on 30 June 2010.
“We want adults who are interested in children as people, as young people. We want adults who respect each child as a developing human with unique characteristics. We encourage moms and soon-to-be moms to attend the course. We also encourage teachers who want to expand their abilities. Finally, we encourage adults who want to be teachers of young children,” Marlene extends her welcome to all who are interested.
By Xing Yangjian