Mentor Teacher Information and Forms
“It is difficult to prepare such a teacher theoretically. She must fashion herself, she must learn how to observe, how to be calm, patient, and humble, how to restrain her own impulses, and how to carry out her eminently practical tasks with required delicacy … but it is only through experience that she will acquire those delicate insights.”
Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
Overview of Seton Montessori Institute’s Philosophy of Practicum
In the words of our esteemed founder, Celma Pinho Perry, “An analysis of the ideal environment in which to prepare Montessori educators points to a specifically created place/atmosphere in which each student teacher will not only study Montessori principles, but will experience in his or her own life: respect, wondering, independence, choice, sharing and the building together of a community.”
Seton considers Practicum the second period of the three period lesson. This is the adult student’s opportunity to experiment, practice, question, and follow their development as they study and practice the task of the educator in relation to the child and the community. The goal being to initiate adults in the understanding and the sharing of a child’s life.
Supervision of the Student Teacher and the Self-Directed Practicum
Seton recommends that the ideal circumstance for a student teaching experience is to practice in a classroom under the direct supervision of an experienced, credentialed supervising teacher who acts as a model for the student teacher’s gradually expanding repertoire of program leadership skills. As such, self-directed practicums are not encouraged by Seton for any of our Montessori Teacher Education candidates.
In circumstances where no classroom with an experienced, Montessori credentialed supervising teacher is accessible, the American Montessori Society has allowed the possibility for the approval of a self-directed practicum, as long as an appropriate plan for support has been proposed by the candidate and their school, and the plan has been approved by the course director. A self-directed practicum is subject to additional monitoring by the practicum team in order to insure that the approved support plan is, indeed, providing adequate support for a successful practicum experience.
In a self-directed practicum:
• The adult learner is acting as the lead teacher for the class while still practicing newly emerging skills and simultaneously completing the requirements for their coursework.
• Self-directed student teachers are not under daily direct supervision of an already-certified supervising teacher who is also shouldering the responsibility for leadership of the class.
• Although a self-directed practicum makes extra demands on the student teacher, it is sometimes a practical necessity in establishing or continuing a program. A self-directed practicum can provide a rewarding learning situation for a student teacher, as long as arrangements are made for the student teacher to receive needed support from the school administration and an identified mentor with regular supervision, coaching and consultation.
To be eligible for a self-directed practicum:
• The student must have a bachelor’s degree, and previous experience in the Montessori classroom.
• Students who wish to propose a self-directed practicum for themselves, or schools who sponsor an individual with the intention of having them complete a self-directed practicum, need to identify a qualified Montessori teacher (with a credential from a program accredited by MACTE) to act as the candidate’s mentor during the practicum.
• Students and schools which propose a self-directed practicum need to provide a written plan for support.
• Students and schools which propose a self-directed practicum need to provide monthly compensation for the role of the mentor teacher. This financial agreement is to be determined between the student, their school and the mentor.
A mentor teacher for a self-directed practicum must be a certified Montessori specialist (at the appropriate level), perhaps teaching in a nearby environment or at a nearby school, or with other documented classroom experience. Prior to the academic school year beginning, the mentor should provide support to the student in the set-up and consideration of their environment (to include physical environment layout, procedures, basic classroom management strategies, etc). The mentor must be available to the student teacher for monthly contacts. These contacts should take the form of a minimum of three scheduled observations and monthly consultation by the mentor during the span of the practicum. The mentor documents and reports to Seton Montessori Institute in writing regarding their monthly contact with the student teacher.
During a self-directed practicum, the head of school or an educational coordinator will often act as the school-designated direct supervisor of the student teacher. Whomever is the self-directed student teacher’s direct supervisor at the school would usually be involved in signing the monthly time sheet and might also be involved in completion of evaluation reports, depending on the total circumstances.
Seton Montessori Institute’s practicum team will discuss plans for mentoring with students doing a self-directed practicum. In some cases, special arrangements can be made for Seton faculty or field visitors to fill the role of mentor for self-directing student teachers. As the student teacher’s self-directed practicum unfolds, Seton reserves the right to propose other supplementary classroom experiences as part of the total practicum, if it is noted that the student teacher needs additional special help in order to fully develop needed teaching and program leadership competence.
A self-directed practicum typically extends beyond the minimum consecutive months for the level of Montessori certification the student is pursuing. Especially in the case of a new program start-up, the candidate may be encouraged to postpone the official start of their practicum until the start-up of the new class or program has been successfully accomplished.
Standards and Responsibilities of the Mentor Teacher
1. Credentials: The mentor teacher must hold a Montessori credential (from a teacher education program accredited by MACTE) at the age level of the class at the level of supervision. They must have a bachelor’s degree.
2. Teaching Experience: The mentor teacher must be in at least the third year of teaching at the level of instruction after receipt of the Montessori credential.
3. Approval: The director of the teacher education program must approve the mentor teacher.
4. Adult Student Experiences: The mentor teacher is responsible for providing experiences relating to the following areas:
● Preparation and Management: indoor and outdoor environments
● Observation and Recording: observing, responding/planning, assessing; maintaining records
● Interaction: relations among parents, staff, and children
● Instruction: designing activities; individual and group presentations
● Management: individual and group strategies
● Parent/Community Involvement: family support and community services; parent education, interviews, conferences, and meetings; open house
● Staff Involvement: participation in meetings, establishing team compatibility and problem-solving techniques
5. Meetings: The mentor teacher must schedule regular review sessions with the adult learner at least once per month to assess progress in the above areas. The mentor teacher must observe the student three times over the course of their practicum. These visits are in addition to the three required field visits. Each contact, and visit, requires the submission of a report.
6. Assessment: The mentor teacher must complete and submit all evaluation forms requested by the teacher education program at the designated times.
7. Communication: The mentor teacher must inform the teacher education program of any difficulties in the professional performance of the adult student. The field visitor will be interested in speaking with the mentor teacher prior to each of the adult student’s three practicum visits so as not to double up in the same week. A rotation of being observed by the mentor or field visitor every other month is preferred (beginning with the mentor).
8. Attendance: The mentor teacher must be in the adult student’s classroom a minimum of three times over the course of the practicum; and in contact monthly.
9. Number of Adult Students Assigned: A mentor teacher cannot have more than two adult learners under their mentorship per year. [2/09]
Mentor Teacher Forms
Prior to beginning their practicum, the student teacher should meet with their supervising teacher to go over the “Guidelines for the Student and Supervising Teacher” form. This form is provided by Seton to help facilitate and document this important introductory communication. Submission of the signed form is a part of the required practicum paperwork.
Guidelines for the Mentor Teacher Form (By Level)
Monthly Mentor Contact Reports
Each month the mentor is responsible for submitting a report documenting their contact with their adult student teacher. The report can be handwritten or typed. Please email our registrar, Rachel Harrison, with the completed reports at the end of each month. The American Montessori Society (AMS) requires documentation of the plan of support for the self-directed student and we appreciate your assistance in providing this transparency.
Mid-Year and End-of-Year Practicum Reports
The two written report forms are important tools for documenting the student teacher’s progress. Completion of the forms provides opportunity for discussing progress achieved and goals to be worked toward with the student teacher while the practicum unfolds and at its conclusion. Submitting the completed forms lets the Seton team know how the student teacher’s performance is seen as the practicum is in process and how you assess the student teacher’s readiness for certification is at its conclusion.
The two forms in question are:
- Mid – Year Practicum Report (DUE: Monday, January 6, 2015 for a practicum that began in August/September 2014)
- End- of the-Year Practicum Report (DUE: Monday, May 11, 2015)
If you prefer a printed copy of the reports be mailed to you with a self-addressed stamped envelope please contact our registrar, Rachel Harrison. The reports may be handwritten or typed. Please email our registrar, Rachel Harrison, at Rachel@SetonMontessori.org your completed reports by their required due dates.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns related to the completion of these reports, or other aspects of the work with a student teacher. We’re happy to hear from supervising teachers any time they’d like to talk about an aspect of the practicum process, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with them on the behalf of our adult students. The Seton Montessori Institute office can be reached at 630/654-0151 or by emailing them at Institute@SetonMontessori.org.