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What I’ve Learned from Teaching at a Montessori Kindergarten

What I’ve Learned from Teaching at a Montessori Kindergarten | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Choosing a course was an important task for me given my background in a business career and corporate environment. Teaching was a very new experience and I wanted to ensure I had adequate training to provide a solid foundation with which to grow in a teaching capacity. I made sure to commence an in-class TESOL course which offered the opportunity to practice what I had learned in a real classroom environment. The course I chose was perfect for this as it was taught in a real school and allowed me to use my newly learned skills in the classroom.

Table of Contents

Lesson Planning Peculiarities

Montessori Teaching Approach

Creativity in Teaching

Benefits of This Work

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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sam B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Lesson Planning Peculiarities

One of the stand out learnings from the course was the importance of context in the series of phases throughout the lesson plan. It was even more evident when teaching a class with no other form of communication if the level of English was very low. The context was the only means of communicating an idea or concept to the student. I practiced a lot of different forms of providing context through real-life materials such as local maps in a geography class. However, admittedly the easiest and most useful method was simple YouTube videos. There was so much material to choose from and provided easy comprehension of the subject. It’s safe to say the large majority of my classes incorporated videos to provide context moving forward during the course.

Also Read: The Most Distinct Differences between American and British English

Montessori Teaching Approach

I have recently started my first job teaching English for an International Montessori Kindergarten in Vietnam and it was quite a shock to learn how different and rigid the teaching methods were in comparison to a standard school I had learned from in Cambodia. My best teaching method (videos) was stripped from me and I was forced to find alternative methods of providing context in a class of kindergarten students who were only just starting to grasp their native language let alone foreign English. To add to this there were no other English teachers to turn to for ideas and support and there was no previous program in place to observe and learn from as they had subcontracted English lessons to a local English Centre.

Creativity in Teaching

I have spent countless hours and most of my weekends coming up with creative and imaginative ways to incorporate context into my lesson plans and ensure the success of my students learning English. It has given me a deeper and clearer understanding of why context is so important and its close connection with the five human senses, touch, smell, taste, sight & sound. Montessori methods embrace learning through these senses and it is abundantly clear that the human mind can absorb stimuli much faster and deeper when incorporating all of these senses rather than relying on just sight and sound through videos.

Also Read: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching English to Young Children

Benefits of This Work

Although it has been a very difficult and strenuous period of adjustment I am grateful for the opportunity to learn firsthand the importance of providing a wide array of stimuli when using context to communicate the lesson subject and vocabulary.

A further observation of this change is the ability to use a smoother transition into other phases of the lesson. For example, the materials used in the context phase can then be directly applied in the core material rather than having to reset after watching a video that removes the student from the environment. Furthermore, there is a higher engagement in the class overall. It’s important to note that this doesn’t always mean higher engagement in the context phase as general children can be glued to the screen. But it is certainly observed overall as the material is more relatable to the other parts of the lesson. This was touched on in unit 4: Materials and the advantages and disadvantages of using authentic materials. Creating your material gives you the advantage of completely relating to the lesson whereas most videos are not directly related.

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In summary, it is apparent that Montessori teaching methods and techniques can certainly enhance teaching & therefore learning outcomes however it is also important to understand the big difference in time and resources required to achieve that outcome. This would help to explain the wide gap in teaching salaries compared with International Montessori Schools & Public Schools.

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