Accountability and Outcomes
“Wait, so the children can just do whatever they want?”
This is a common question directed at Montessori teachers and administrators from people who are just beginning to learn about the Montessori method. Newcomers are often shocked to hear about the freedoms that Montessori children are allowed. They imagine that the Montessori classroom must be chaotic. Yet when they come to visit a Montessori Elementary classroom for the first time they are shocked once again. They see children engaged in a buzzing hive of productive work, showing each other care and courtesy as they collaborate on ambitious projects.
Why is this? The first reason is that children have a natural tendency toward productive and meaningful work, a tendency which is drawn out by the Montessori teacher and the environment. The second reason is that, given the right support from the teacher, the children are quite capable of holding themselves accountable to the goals that they set for themselves as well as the goals that are set for them by society.
The Montessori student and teacher have three tools at their disposal to track progress and allow the child to hold himself accountable for his own learning: the work journal, the student/teacher conference, and external benchmark assessment.