The Montessori Classroom
To get a sense of what the Montessori Method is all about, you just need to step into a classroom. You will not find rows of desks as you do in a traditional classroom setting - rather, the Montessori classroom is a learning environment that is set up in such a way as to facilitate choice. The rooms are spacious and uncluttered, allowing a student to choose an activity and either work at a table or on the floor, rolling out a mat so as to define their workspace. Everything has its place, which establishes a sense of harmony and order and establishes a peaceful and calm learning environment.
It may be hard to spot a teacher in the Montessori environment since their primary role is to be more of a 'guide' for the children. They may steer students toward new learning opportunities, but it is the child's interaction with the environment which enables learning to occur.
You will typically see students of different ages all in one classroom working together harmoniously. The older students tend to mentor the younger ones, and the younger ones look up to the older ones and are excited to do one day be able to do what their 'big brothers' and 'big sisters' are doing. The Montessori classroom fosters a sense of community, independence, and creativity - helping students learn early on how to make their own way in the world.