We often hear questions about how the Montessori philosophy is worked out and practiced in classrooms. Foundational Montessori tenants such as independence, focus, peace, and individual discovery—what do those actually look like in a classroom of elementary students?
This is a typical day in the life of an E1 (grade 1-3) classroom.
As students enter the Elementary classrooms each morning, the sense of responsibility and ownership of the classroom meets them in way of preparing the space. They remove chairs from tables and attend to daily jobs including folding and putting away laundry, putting away clean dishes, attending to the classroom turtle, and checking class supplies.
Once the environment is ready, the students turn their focus to their personal work. Throughout the morning, students are given presentations both individually and in groups. Students receive presentations from a trained Montessori teacher for concepts for which they are developmentally ready and are then assigned follow up work that demonstrates their understanding and readiness to move forward to the next concept. While students receive presentations, their classmates work independently throughout all areas of the classroom. They consult each other when they need help and then bring those questions to the teacher if they need more clarification.
Montessori children take individual responsibility of their time and learning by using a work log each week to track their follow up work, to record work they have completed in the classroom, and to act as a tool to gauge their priorities and responsibilities. At the end of the morning, a chime signifies the end of work time and an adult or older student leads the class through sharing observations and giving community reminders.
Multiple days a week, the Elementary 1 and Elementary 2 classes participate in community lunch where students from both classrooms practice grace, courtesy and communication skills.
After lunch and a period of free time, the students return to independent work for the afternoon or participate in special classes such as P.E. and Music.
Students in Elementary 1 are given opportunities to act as leaders as they assist Primary students in the hallway, read to them in their classrooms, or walk with Toddler students down the hallway to their classroom as they arrive to school in the morning. Allowing students opportunities to practice leading while also collaborating with and learning from their peers, provides support as they develop into well-rounded individuals.