What is Montessori teacher training? (My AMI Experience)

My journey to becoming a Montessori teacher was nothing like I had imagined. It was an intense process of learning new things and undergoing a real transformation within myself. I am a certified Montessori teacher with an AMI diploma for 6 to 12-year-old children. Throughout my time in Montessori training, I learned about the educational method, and how to implement it with children. A large part of training is creating a set of albums (teacher manuals) to guide me during my time in the classroom. In this blog post, I want to share how I came to learn about Montessori, my expereince of Montessori training, and some tips for you if you are considering getting your Montessori certification and how to find a Montessori training center near you!

How I Found Montessori

I fell in love with Montessori during a classroom observation while I was in high school. In my sociology class at the community college, I had to write a paper comparing something in society. Since I was planning to enter the education field, I decided to focus my efforts on studying different educational methods and models. I observed a traditional public school, a charter school, and a private Montessori school. Once I saw what appeared to me like magic in the Montessori environment, I was hooked. From there I looked for ways that I could get trained as a Montessori teacher. 

AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Training Center 

I received my Montesssori AMI diploma from The Montessori Center of Minnesota, in the Twin Cities. When I found out there was a Montessori program where I lived I didn’t even look at any other training centers, but there are many! This training center is connected to a Public Charter Montessori school. There was a designated lecture hall where we spent many hours learning about the Montessori approach, receiving presentations, and immersing ourselves in the Montessori philosphy. The structure of this specific training center was laid out over 3 summers. During the academic year, there were online seminars, observations, practice teaching requirements, chart painting, and reading. These were intensive summers yet so transformative in growing in deeper understanding of the development of the whole child. I learned how to guide children in a Montessori classroom. 

An adult using a mallet to strike a bell in a Montessori environment.
Image Source: The Montessori Center of Minnesota

There are many AMI Montessori training programs across the world! What is so unique about the AMI training is that it is an international training. I had classmates from all around the world who traveled to Minnesota for their Montessori teacher training courses. 

Structure of Montessori Training

A Montessori training course will vary depending on your trainer, the institution, and the format of the Montessori course. I will speak to my expereince in an AMI training program. Even at the training center I attended, things have changed in the last few years to include more of a hybrid approach to certain aspects of the training. 

Two adults sitting at a table using Montessori materials.
Image Source: The Montessori Center of Minnesota

The Summer Structure 

Our training ran Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:45 pm. During that time we had two work cycles. We would begin in the lecture hall for our morning lectures. Most often we started by receiving presentations (lessons) from our trainer. She would model how to give the presentations just like she would to children in Montessori classrooms. While she was presenting, we would take notes. I write down the order of the presentation, the materials needed, and any relevant practical or theoretical notes.

After training, I would take those notes and transform them into an album page. Albums are a teacher manual with all the Montessori lessons you will give from 6 to 12 years. The morning lectures ran for about 2 hours.

Montessori album page with written text and illustrations.
Example of a Mathematics album page

Afterward, we would have a short break and reconvene in the prepared environment. The real transformation of personal growth came during these practice times. This is when we got hands-on learning time with the materials in a beautifully prepared Montessori environment. It was time to work in groups, practice with the materials, and give presentations to one another. We engaged with the materials as Montessori children would. This was the best way to learn, comprehend, and deepen our understanding of what we just learned in the lecture period. 

We would break for afternoon lunch and meet back up for another lecture followed by a second practice time in the Montessori environment. At the end of the day, we took care of any practical life (chores) that needed to be done around the training center. Every aspect of our training was a purposeful step in fostering a deep understanding of the Montessori philosophy. 

The Academic Year

The structure of my specific training center was intensive summers and some additional work during the two academic years in between. When I was in training, we had a few online seminars, where we would receive lectures that didn’t require us to be in person. There were reading requirements during this time. Additionally, we had to schedule two 2-week observations and practice teaching opportunities in a Montessori elementary classroom. Another part of my training was to paint and color a series of Montessori charts and timelines which are used during differnet lessons. I think there are options to buy these already colored now, but when I went through training, that wasn’t an option.

Exams

At the end of training, we had both written and oral exams. We took time to prepare for these but essentially these exams require you to recall all of the presentations from the elementary curriculum. The written exams are more focused on theory and the oral exams are done within the context of the Montessori prepared environment. When I took my exams, I even had an adult who was my “child” for me to offer presentations too. We drew slips from various subject areas from a bag and would need to present those lessons to a panel of examiners from memory. This was an intense part of training, but so incredible to see what I was capable of. Everyone wants you to succeed!

Why Montessori Training is Necessary

Montessori teachers have a unique role. There are very specific lessons given in Montessori schools that are passed down from Maria Montessori. Additionally, the Montessori method is more than using bead bars and grammar symbols. It is a transformation of the adult to see and understand children differently. This transformation comes about through this in-person training experience. Authentic Montessori training gives you an experienced trainer, a beautifully and ideally prepared environment, and additional staff to support you in your learning. There are other Montessori training centers, but I have to say I am partial to the AMI training. I’ll mention some other Montessori training options in a later section.

Adults in Montessori training using a sensorial material.
Image Source: The Montessori Center of Minnesota

My Expereince in Montessori Training

My expereince in Montessori training was nothing like what I had imagined. I gained skill sets I never knew I would and developed life-long friendships with some classmates I had. Since training, I am a different person because of it. I fell in love with this educational approach and through the intense structure. I learned so much about child development and how to be a Montessori guide.

Two adults sitting using Montessori card materials.
Image Source: The Montessori Center of Minnesota

But honestly, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It requires long hours and dedicated attention. Every evening after training, I spend another 3 to 4 hours working on editing and polishing the album pages from lessons I had received that day. We were also responsible for adding illustrations of what the materials looked like at different stages throughout the presentations. I got very proficient in creating graphics in Microsoft Word, which I now realize is definately not a graphic design tool, but I used it like that. Creating illustrations of bead bars, Montesssori grammar boxes and so much more!

Each week, after 5 days of lectures I would have around 100 to 150 pages of album work to finish over the weekend. The weekend was a time to find some rest, but more work needed to be done many times. We had these large yellow envelopes where we would place all our work for that week. Monday morning, we turned in our work and started the process all over again. Montessori training helped me grow and develop so many skills and definately fostered a desire for lifelong learning. The standards were high in our training program and it helped me both as an individual and as a future Montessori teacher. 

Where to get Montessori Training

I was trained at the elementary level, but there are levels from birth to high school. Here is some more information about the different training options. 

A Montessori training environment.
Image Source: The Montessori Center of Minnesota

Montessori Training Levels Available:

  • Assistant to Infancy (0-3)
  • Primary (3-6)
  • Elementary (6-12)
  • Adolescent (12-18)
  • Montessori Assistant Training
  • Aging and Dementia (Adult)

Montessori training Center Locator

This website is an AMI training center locator where you can find all of the AMI training centers and what levels they offer and when the trainings are happening. 

An image of an adult female hand striking a bell with a mallet. Text overlay that says "How to become a Montessori teacher"

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