In the traditional classroom setting, students are grouped by grade and are taught by a single classroom teacher. In Montessori schools, however, students are grouped by three-year age spans (i.e., 3-6 years old, 6-9 years old, 9-12 years old). These classes with three-year age spans require two teachers: a Montessori trained lead teacher and a co-teacher (or teacher’s assistant). Having a lead Montessori trained teacher and a co-teacher is vital to ensuring fidelity of implementation of the Montessori pedagogy.
Co-teachers are not only key to ensuring that the complex learning environment is prepared for children but they also enable Montessori teachers to focus on instruction without interruption. The co-teachers awareness and scanning of the environment not only protects the teacher’s lessons but also assures that observational data are being gathered continuously, students are navigating the environment appropriately, and concentration is honored. In addition, the teacher and co-teacher’s interactions offer a constant model of grace and courtesy for students to emulate, something not possible with only one adult present.