Guide for Observing Our Classroom in Action
Welcome to Chesterbrook Montessori School
The Montessori classroom is a child’s community, specially designed to maximize concentration, self-control and individual expression.
The teacher is present to guide the children in their learning. This includes presenting new materials and work, assisting with chosen work and reinforcing ground rules that permit each child to work in an orderly and undisturbed manner.
Guidelines for the Observer
Today’s observation is an important step in your search for a school that matches your family’s philosophy. In order to get the most from your observation, it is important to remain as inconspicuous as possible, thereby minimizing your impact on the environment and the children.
Please stay seated and do not engage the children in conversation. If they speak to you, which is okay, simply smile and respond passively. We recommend that you tell them that you are here to watch them work. Following these guidelines will help you to see the classroom as it usually operates.
While observing, take note of the following...
The Montessori “prepared environment” is designed for the child - it is child-sized, ordered, sequential and beautiful. This environment, with the teacher as a link between environment and child, promotes independence, self-direction and exploration.
The classroom materials are an integral part of the “prepared environment” and are designed to attract the child. By repetition, the child will absorb concepts concretely and develop skills through their use.
Mixed age groups promote a cooperative, non-competitive community. The children are encouraged to set their own goals, which may involve younger children seeking the help of their older peers. Peer teaching, mentoring and modeling reinforce confidence and skills.
Freedom comes with responsibility and respect for the limits and rights of others. These expectations are clearly communicated and consistently reinforced.
Concentration can be observed at many levels and for varying lengths of time. The materials are designed to focus attention and promote the development and extension of concentration.
Children have opportunities to work alone or with others and to deal with each other in real situations. Role playing appropriate behavior and language in specific social situations prepares the children for social interactions that arise on a daily basis in the classroom. This preparedness creates a calm, conscious community where the welfare of the whole is upheld by respect for the individual.
We also recommend that you look for...
Independence. (Did the children appear confident and content?)
A child teaching another child. (Were both children engaged in the work?)
A child’s act of kindness. (Was it spontaneous?)
Teamwork & Cooperation. (Did it contribute to a peaceful and happy atmosphere?)
Concentration. (Especially dear is the young child with his/her tongue showing!)
Adult interactions. (Did they model respect and cooperation with the children & each other?)
Adult’s movement in the classroom. (Did they move calmly & confidently? Watch how they model desired behaviors.)
Formal Classroom Lessons that you might see 'in action'...
Practical Life (Activities that practice care of oneself, a friend, or the environment and that demonstrate simple grace and courtesy.)
Sensorial Materials & Games (Activities that hone and refine the senses.)
Language (Lessons that range from picture cards to moveable alphabet to writing reports to exploring grammar concepts. Remember that language encompasses all interests including biological and physical sciences, music, art, geometry, geography, history, cultural sciences, etc.)
Math (Lessons that involve manipulating materials to explore abstract concepts and writing equations to express an understanding of the concepts.)
Before you leave...
Jot down any emotions you’ve seen, comments you’ve heard, interactions that you’ve found interesting, or any questions that may have arisen. Your feedback, both written and through conversation, is always appreciated and enriches everyone’s understanding of this unique learning environment. It is best to write or call soon after your observation, while ideas and impressions are still fresh.