Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance his learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps him master the challenge at hand—and protects him from moving on before he’s ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”
The Montessori method is based on scientific observation. A key aspect of a Montessori teacher’s training is learning how to systematically observe when a child reveals an especially strong interest towards a piece of knowledge or skill. Teachers observe for children’s independence, self-reliance, self-discipline, love of work, concentration and focus. They also observe for the mood of the class – an overview of the mood of the whole class as well as the mood of individual children. In addition to keeping observation notes, teachers keep records of lessons presented to individual children and record children’s progress in working toward mastery of skills.