Are You Montessori Certified?
Believe it or not, there are no laws that specifically state that the director or owner of a private school has to have a degree and/or certification of any kind.
This is not to say that all of them don't, but it is something to be on the look out for. Additionally, the director or principal in a Public Montessori is not mandated to have a Montessori certification.
If all of the teachers are certified, does the administrator really have to be certified?
In theory, no. Ideally the teachers and administrators will work collaboratively to ensure the best possible education for their students, but it is hard to do when everyone has a different foundation, training and understanding of the school's educational philosophy.
Understanding the Montessori Philosophy completely is especially important for the person in charge of the school, as its methods of instruction and organization are often very different from what even the best administrator with the best traditional background and training will know and understand.
I was once asked to teach a remedial math class. The non-Montessori principal sent 40 below grade level children to me for 20 minutes! I didn't have 40 sets of the Montessori Materials needed to teach the lesson, didn't have time for the children to set up and do the work, and couldn't differentiate the instruction in the time given to me (one week). Then I was told that Montessori didn't work for below grade level children.
The public school our program was in had a Student of the Month award. Unfortunately, there was only 1 award a month for 9 months, and 20 children. This is clearly against Montessori philosophy. First, Montessori philosophy doesn't believe in extrinsic awards, and second, we don't believe in asking children to attempt something that they can never achieve. With the situation as it was, 11 children could never get the award, no matter how hard they tried. I tried to explain our philosophy to the non-Montessori staff to see if we could adapt it some way, but it is hard to explain such a non-traditional philosophy in 5 minutes. It goes against the grain of what every traditional educator is taught. So of course the information was misunderstood, and before you knew it, everyone at the school was saying that Montessori believed that all children should get awards whether they deserved them or not. This kind of statement is very detrimental to our program in general, across many schools and programs.
Over the years Montessori teachers have been asked to teach a class or two for the rest of the children in the school. Since traditional classes teach in units of time, this special class is often asked to be taught in the middle of the day, after one traditional block of time, before another, and right smack day in the middle of the Montessori 3 hour work time. Montessori teachers inform the rest of the school that they would love to teach the extra class, but ask if it could be moved either earlier or later in the day to keep the three hour uninterrupted work time intact. This of course is not understood and the Montessori teachers are then seen as "inflexible" and/or "non team players".
It is important for everyone, especially the administrator(s), to understand Montessori Philosophy.