The practicum experience allows the adult learner to observe a good model of the Montessori method in action and to practice what has been presented in class. The requirement is that a major part of the academic section must be completed prior to starting the practicum so prior experience cannot be counted.
Duration – Elementary I and II
The practicum phase includes at least seven hours per day, five days per week of Montessori Elementary Level I or Level II classroom experience for an entire school year. Only one practicum year is required for an Elementary I – II credential. This equals approximately 1266 hours of class and environment preparation work, teaching, clean-up, meetings, parent conferences, etc.
During the summer academic phase of the program, you will receive additional information on the practicum but the information below will help you look for a site now if you do not already have one.
Choosing a Practicum Site
NOTE: Students who select a practicum site located more than fifty miles from the course location or the nearest field consultant will be charged an additional fee (mileage, bridge and ferry tolls, overnight lodging and meals) to cover reasonable transportation expenses.
Practicum Site Requirements
The basic requirements for a practicum site are that the school be financially stable, hold appropriate state licenses, and have and observe a nondiscrimination policy. The school and head teacher must be willing to take on the extra responsibilities having an intern requires. The teacher under whom you will work must be AMS or MACTE certified for the age group you are working with, and must be in at least the second year of teaching following receipt of credential. It is recommended that the site be an AMS member school.
AGE RANGE: The practicum site must have the full age range for which the student is seeking certification. Kindergarten age children must be included with 2 ½ to 4 year olds, not separated in their own class or included in Elementary I.
UNINTERRUPTED WORK TIME: The classroom must observe the AMS recommendations for uninterrupted work time. These are as follows:
- Elementary: A 3-hour uninterrupted work cycle, 5 days per week, is optimal. The school must provide at least a 2-to-3-hour work cycle, 4 days per week.
CLASS SIZE: A minimum of 12 students, although a group of 20-25 is preferred.
MATERIALS: The classroom should have the full complement of Montessori materials, purchased and teacher-made, appropriate to the age level.
RESPONSIBILITIES: The school administrator must understand the responsibilities of the school and the head teacher. For example, interns are required to assist their head teachers in classroom maintenance, clean-up, preparation (such as filling paint jars, etc.), but are not expected to perform all the janitorial work for the school. Interns are not allowed to take full responsibility for a class to cover absences of the head teacher.
RELEASE TIME: Schools must permit students to take time off from their classrooms to complete required program responsibilities, such as seminars and observations. The school is not required to pay interns when they are not performing their duties at the school.
In cases which warrant it, exemptions to the requirements for AMS/MACTE training for the head teacher may be applied for to the Director. In general, only circumstances such as remote location or personal hardship would warrant exemptions.
The relationship between the school and the intern is an employer-employee relationship, which should be spelled out in full in a written agreement. The agreement should cover pay and benefits, responsibilities (including supervision times, such as recess or lunch, and participation in after-school activities, if expected), illness policy, material-making policy, etc. The internship is a paid position, ordinarily taxable. Pay should be negotiated between the two parties, based on the amount of time to be worked and the responsibilities assigned to the intern. MEIPN and the intern should receive copies of this agreement.
Supervised and Self-directed Interns
Students will receive an on-site visit from a field consultant at least three times during the academic year as well as monthly contact. These visits are intended to provide support and feedback to the student as well as to evaluate student progress. Students should view these visits as opportunities to ask questions and discuss concerns with an experienced Montessori professional. In our experience, most students feel somewhat apprehensive about the visits before the practicum begins, but during the actual practicum, they are glad to get the help and support of program supervisors. You may also get shorter contacts from the program, in the form of brief, “drop-in” visits, and telephone calls.