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Keys to Our Success: Assistants in the Montessori Classroom

Categories: General Knowledge Fund / Spotlight on Our Teachers / Throwback Thursday / Visiting Wheaton Montessori

In our classrooms, assistants are the key to ensuring that the AMI-certified teachers are able to focus on instruction without interruption.  The assitant views the classroom in its entirety, stepping in to help protect student concentration and work, enabling lessons through assisting students when the teacher is occupied with another student, and modeling grace and courtesy for the mixed-age classroom.


Annette Haines, a prolific writer and Montessori trainer, spoke of the importance of the Montessori Assistant in “The Role of the Teacher and the Role of the Assistant.”  Ms. Haines was our own Mrs. Carrillo’s first trainer and Wheaton Montessori’s first AMI consultant when the school was navigating the extremely rigorous certification process.  She is constantly quoted on all-things-Montessori and we frequently refer to her advice and comments.  She wrote of classroom assistants: “Someone asked a famous conductor of a great symphony orchestra which instrument he considered the most difficult to play.  The conductor thought a moment, then said, “Second fiddle.  I can get plenty of first violinists.  But to find one who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem.  And if we have no second fiddles, we have no harmony.”  – Annette Haines, Ed.D., “The Role of the Teacher and the Role of the Assistant.


At Wheaton Montessori School, we are blessed with the long and enduring relationships that we have with our assistants.  They come each day and with the head teacher, create a harmony in the classroom that is apparent to all.


Throwback! Ms. Rivera as an Elementary student. Ms. Rivera is now the classroom assistant in Mrs. Carrillo’s Primary classroom while she pursues her university education.

Many of the classroom assistants at WMS have been with each classroom from its beginning days.  Mrs. Rivera and Ms. Rivera have a unique relationship as school assistants; this mother-daughter dynamic duo has been a part of Wheaton Montessori School from the early days.  Ms. Rivera was one of our first students, attending WMS while her mother assisted in a Primary classroom. Mrs. Maldonado was one of the first assistants in Mrs. Berdick’s class and has been with the school since 2004!


Our assistants, Ms. Rivera, Mrs. Rivera, Mrs. Maldonado, Ms. Alvarez, and Ms. Ellingsen help our students with so much more than setting out Practical Life and preparing materials.  As Laura Flores Shaw stated:

  • “Assistants are key to ensuring that the complex learning environment is prepared.
  • The assistant’s broad awareness and scanning of the environment not only protects the teacher’s lessons, but also assures that observation data are being gathered continuously, students are navigating the environment appropriately, and concentration is honored.
  • The teacher and the assistant’s interactions offer a constant model of grace and courtesy for students to emulate, something not possible with only one adult present.”*




* National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (2015), “The Assistant in the Montessori Classroom. West Hartford, CT.