I begin the Elementary guide training tomorrow.
This is a rather significant training course. It is the Diploma Course for Montessori Elementary guides. It is through an AMI-certified training center, which is very important (but more on that later).
Most importantly, this means that Hilltop Children’s House will have fully trained guides leading both of our Montessori environments.
The course is intense. The work is concentrated into eleven months, but those eleven months are jam packed. During the eleven months:
- I will have three-hour classes via Zoom for 22 weeks.
- I will have to be at the training center in Phoenix for nine weeks.
- I will need to do 100 hours of observation.
- I will need to do four weeks of practice teaching.
- Plus countless reflections, papers, material making, practicing presentations, writing out processes, and producing my own teaching albums and materials.
- Capped by in-person oral exams and a practicum exam.
It is intense. I watched Noëlle do the Primary diploma training two years ago. I saw what it required of her — the time commitment, and the work requirements. She worked so hard at it, and the payoff has been tremendous. She is such an amazing guide in the Primary program.
Now, I am eager to dive into this Elementary course.
I know this training is essential to me being the best Elementary guide I can be. And I want to be that. The children deserve it. Their parents deserve it. The world needs it.
The Reluctant Elementary Guide Who Loves It
The funny thing is, I never planned on being a Montessori Elementary guide.
I never planned on being a teacher at all.
But then last year, the stars aligned and Hilltop Children’s House was gearing up to launch an Elementary Program.
The building next door to our Primary Program fell into our lap. Some of our Primary families and others in the community approached us about expanding into Elementary. Through some of these connections, a significant amount of the materials needed were available, and we had enough money in the bank to purchase other essentials.
All we needed was a guide.
I had spent the year as Noëlle’s assistant in Primary, and I learned two things: 1) I actually really deeply love the Montessori approach to education and I desire to make it more available to more people; 2) Primary is not for me.
So one day, and I still don’t know what exactly prompted me to say it, I told Noëlle that, if all we lacked to launch the Elementary was a guide, I would do it.
I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I knew I wasn’t the most qualified, and I figured someone more qualified would come by if it was God’s will. I would happily step aside when that person came.
But I wasn’t just going to slouch into the year! I would be the best guide I could be, under the circumstances.
Montessori Guide Training is Essential
I know, from watching Noëlle, that a Montessori classroom cannot run properly without a properly trained guide. The materials have a progression to them, and they are designed to be used in a very particular manner. The guide needs to know exactly how to present them, and how to step back and let the child work at it.
Also, the guide must have a firm grasp of all materials and presentations in the room, so that they can identify in a timely fashion which presentations are appropriate for which child, and when.
The guide also must understand, and have imbibed, the underlying philosophy. They must be well-versed in how to draw forth from the child the curiosity and internal drive that will bring about incredible learning.
And this isn’t even touching on conflict resolution and discipline within a Montessori context — essential elements all their own.
This all requires training.
I knew I did not have time to do the full Elementary training before classes began, so I did what I could do to prepare myself.
I did the Orientation training course. I observed at some other schools last summer. And I talked a lot with some fully trained Elementary guides among our friends and acquaintances to get a feel for what I should expect, and how I should proceed.
The year began. It went pretty well. God did not inspire someone else to come and relieve me.
And I found that I love doing it.
Now, to be sure, we have an exceptional group of kids in our classroom. They are curious, caring, respectful, resourceful, intelligent, creative, and loving. They made this first year memorable, and a real learning experience for me.
And now, I have the opportunity to give back, if you will, by getting this training.
And, as I say, I’m eager to dive in.
At the opening I said that I am doing this through an “AMI-certified training center,” and I said that this is important.
Here’s the reason.
No one has “Montessori” trademarked. There is no governing body protecting the “Montessori” brand and certifying that all schools that use the word “Montessori” really are following the principles and methods of Maria Montessori.
As such, any school could call itself “Local Montessori School,” and any school could call its curriculum “Montessori.” But using the word doesn’t guarantee the program.
Maria Montessori realized this problem, too. She saw people taking liberties with her methods and training people to do things that were not true to her discoveries and philosophy. So she and her son, Mario, founded the Association Montessori International, or AMI, to carry on her work.
That is an excellent reason to trust AMI.
At Hilltop Children’s House we insist on training at AMI-certified centers. The one we’ve utilized most is the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies, or “SIMS,” which is located in Phoenix, Arizona
We have gone to SIMS for three training courses already. Noëlle completed the Primary Diploma Course, and I have completed the Orientation courses for both Primary and Elementary.
Further, Noëlle’s assistant, Lucy, completed the Primary diploma course through SIMS. My assistant, Rebekah, has Orientation training for Toddler and Adolescent (high school) levels. Hers were not through SIMS, but they were through another AMI training center.
AMI training is typically more expensive, but it is absolutely worth it. The children’s education makes it worth it.
So I am embarking on this program, and I can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned to bear on the Elementary Program at HCH!
Your prayers for me and for the school, and your support (including financial: this training isn’t cheap) are most appreciated.
— Mr. Tom