Montessori Expansion

I “worry” at the challenge of expanding Montessori education in my free time, which is not to say that I am either obsessed and overwrought or that I have the silver bullet answer. Some people do Sudoku or crossword puzzles when bored, I think about expanding Montessori education, and specifically AMI because it is the organization in which I trained and am a member.

AMI has training centers around the world, and it is my understanding that the ideal class size for a training course is approximately 20-25 students. An ideal primary class size is 30 children and 1 trained teacher. I was thinking about the level of school and enrollment growth is necessary to support a training center under the ideal circumstance that each graduate starts teaching immediately. I am a visual thinker and made this image to represent the information.

Each training course requires 1 trainer (purple) and 1 training center (red building) to produce about 24 trained guides (orange) who require about 24 primary environments (green) to follow approximately 720 children (red).    This of course assumes that teachers are entering established environments, rather than creating a new environment which would require 240 children (red) rather than 720.

I don’t have access to data or statistics regarding teacher turn over or school growth, but I do receive the AMI-USA newsletter and can draw some conclusions as a result.

There are 10 Primary (3-6) Level courses in the United States (Atlanta, Miami, Hartford, Washington D.C., St. Paul, St. Louis, Dallas, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco).  Many of these courses are academic year formats, while others are summer course formats that only graduate guides every other summer.

Next year I estimate that (6 Academic Programs +1/2 of 4 Summer Programs =) 8 courses will graduate approximately 150 trained Montessori guides (assuming an average of 18 students complete each course and pass the exams).

At the time this article was published there were 19 Primary Guide positions listed on the AMI-USA website.  Admittedly this is not the peak hiring season, but I will be surprised if there are 150 positions advertised in the spring.  (I will check again in a few months).

So here are my unanswered questions:

If there are 150 graduates each year, and it is unlikely that 150 new jobs open each year, how many graduates begin teaching immediately?  How many never go into teaching?  How many choose to work as assistants and how many work as assistants because it is the only job available?

How many teachers retire each year?

How many new environments open each year?

What can be done to open more environments to meet the supply of trained guides each year?

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3 thoughts on “Montessori Expansion

  1. Thanks for the intriguing comments and questions.

    I would like to point out a few things, but these points are related to Elementary trained teachers. I do not have any experience with Primary training.

    First of all, many people go to the Elementary training either sponsored or hired by a school. Some trainees were assistants and are now becoming certified with the intention of going back to their original school to teach.
    Therefore, most people in training have a job lined up and are not competing for the few advertisements online.

    Also, it is not uncommon for AMI trained teachers to work for AMS schools or public charter schools.

    That aside, I agree with you that expansion of Montessori should be a priority and I would love to see more schools opening on a regular basis. I would also like to see more schools in areas and countries that do not have any Montessori schools.

    I have often wondered if AMI should have a branch of the organization purely dedicated to expansion, public relations and community education. Do they have that already?

    Thanks for the post and ideas. I enjoy reading your blog!

  2. For the elementary, we can consider that there are 8 AMI courses out there and only 3 of them follow the academic year format, which means that on average 70 are coming out through the year. If you consider the course I’m taking in Milwaukee, 9 of them are sponsored and have jobs waiting and two more had jobs coming into the program. This is about half and could be higher for the summer format. So, there are really about 35-40 newly AMI trained guides looking for jobs every year.

    Montessori had a resurgence in the 70s, so we’re seeing some of the first early turnover rates of that generation of schools. I wonder if that will become a factor in sustaining the job availability.

    I talked to a lady who came out of Milwaukee in the three summer format and moved to Washington. She simply wanted to sub, after three years of training, but was offered a job and took it. I would be interested in seeing how the placements rates of primary to elementary or of AMI to AMS are.

    Either way, I’m glad I’m not going for public schools jobs, I had a friend who got hired for a choice teaching job in the Chicago area. She went against 500 applicants. The reason my parents ended up in Fort Dodge, Iowa was because it was there only good offer after 150 job applications. They took what they could get.

  3. Jeni and Christina

    Thank you both for your comments and insight into the Elementary world. It has always been my understanding that Elementary teachers are more rare and in higher demand in the US, but my only evidence of Primary courses is anecdotal; we only had 2 teachers in my training cohort that were sponsored/guaranteed jobs. Obviously I would love to have some hard data. Thanks for reading and shaping the discussion.

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