One of my absolute favorite parts about becoming an internationally-trained Montessori guide was the training. Those three summers were incredibly hard work and were also some of the most fun I can recall from my twenties. So in this post, we’re gonna dive into what training is like, along with some tips that will get you through 0-3 AMI Montessori training, or maybe other kinds of montessori teacher training, a little more smoothly.
Q: Why did I choose AMI (the international style) training?
The reason I chose AMI training is because the guide who I worked under as an assistant was AMI trained; and she was a ::phenomenal:: teacher and boss. The way she ran her classroom and worked with those babies was unforgettable. Her classroom was beautiful, she got a cloth diaper and cloth underwear service for the nido and was doing toilet learning from walking well onward. We used to play capoeira music with the babies during circle time (she and I both used to play Capoeira at some point in our lives so we both knew popular Capoeira songs. I would literally play the babies’ tambourine while she played the berimbau. It was pretty great). She was an expert; and I remember being blown away by her professionalism, her parent information nights, and her moo business cards with “M.Ed” on them. If I was going to pursue Montessori teacher training, I was going to the same one she went to. And she was AMI trained.
Q: Did I do any research on the different kinds of Montessori training, or AMI training, before I chose the training centre I chose?
A: No, I didn’t. But I should have. My job basically offered to send me to training (kinda… they did not front the cost of training for me; but if I got trained and came back to work for them, they would pay a monthly stipend to gradually repay the cost of training). I knew that my former lead guide as described above went to a specific training centre, Montessori Northwest in Portland, Oregon. I had also been curious to live in Portland for quite some time by that point, thanks to meeting so many interesting people whose company I enjoyed who had lived in Portland at some point in their lives. Combined with watching probably too much Portlandia. So the thought of going to training in Portland was a definite “yes”.
Q: Do you recommend doing research before choosing a Montessori training format or training centre?
A: Yes, yes I do. And that is because I know what it’s like both doing AMI training; and what it’s like in the real world after training. There are certain hardships that AMI guides face trying to get jobs and being valued for their work and expertise. Choosing to become AMI trained can basically backfire on you in the real world. You are either loved or hated for being AMI trained; and most schools and colleagues will resent you for it. You will intimidate a lot of people. And schools won’t want to pay your salary. Not to mention there are way more AMS schools out there than there are AMI.
Knowing what I know now, I would strongly encourage every 0-6 trained guide to definitely do your due diligence, learn what training options are available to you, and which will best suit your needs. AMI training is not cheap and there are other formats that are remote and cheaper, and will still earn you a good enough, MACTE accredited Montessori certification. If I ever pursued AMI training at another age level, I would head straight to San Diego and surf my butt off the entire time I wasn’t working. Research the training centers that exist across the country and all over the world, and choose one somewhere exciting that suits your life desires.
If you love the woods and amazing food and beer, go to Portland. If you love queso, breakfast tacos, and amazing beer, go to Austin, TX. If you wanna catch you some salty waves, and eat acai bowls from Mad Beet or sea urchin at the farmer’s market, go to San Diego. If you wanna eat gelato and learn italian, go to Bergamo. Let this experience grow you as a person.
You’ll walk away trained, regardless. But you can also walk away irreversibly transformed as a person. Portland transformed me into a beer-loving, 15 pound heavier, beaver-dam traversing, Gorge-hiking, blacklight 3-D yoga-ing, 80s rooftop workout-seeking, rufied on kava, happier version of me who discovered she likes driving for 9 hours by herself. I friggin’ loved it. You guys don’t even know what kinds of memories I walked away with from those two summers.
Know this: in the real world, most schools by and large will not give a baby’s booty where you got your training. They just won’t care. They also won’t care whether you got a master’s degree or not. All those things ::might:: do for you, and that’s a huge might, is that they might allow you to earn more pay if and only if you work for a school that cares. But in most schools, they will not. So don’t hold your breath assuming that pursuing all those things, or even AMI training, will actually count in the real world of Montessori work.
I have worked alongside women trained on the internet that were worshipped by the head of school while I was repeatedly dissed by the head of school. I have literally applied for jobs where the hiring manager or head of school looks me straight in the eye and says, “I don’t even read resumes. I’m looking for teachers who are passionate about kids, period. And I can only find that out during face-to-face interviews”. Or “I don’t care where you got your training or how many degrees you have”.
So…. wait… why did I waste my time and money getting the highest-caliber Montessori training on earth, with the master’s degree, again? I’ve literally had schools pay or offer me $13 and $14 per hour with all those credentials. Again, they don’t give a. Sorry, but at least you know. I’m literally the only 0-3 AMI trained guide in the entire state of Hawaii, MACTE accredited, with a master’s degree. Do you think any of the employers care? Nope.
Q: Why should anyone choose AMI training over the other formats of training?
A: There is only one reason you choose AMI training: because of the kind of teacher it turns you into. Straight up, if you want to become one of the best Montessori teachers in the world, you choose the best Montessori teacher training in the world, from which all other Montessori teacher trainings stem. AMI is the “original gangster” of all other Montessori teacher training programs that exist on the earth. And there is no other way to crumble that cookie.
If you trace the lineage of any other format of Montessori teacher training, somewhere along that lineage, an AMI trained guide taught that training center everything they know. That is not to say that other formats of Montessori teacher training can’t churn out excellent educators. It’s just an absolute guarantee that if you get the AMI training, you will learn the most comprehensive Montessori teacher training there is. Because this is Dr. Montessori’s original training lineage. And for all of it’s other drawbacks, no one can take that away from AMI. If you want to pursue other formats of Montessori training and get the biggest bang for your buck, find an AMI guide to mentor you or to do your practicum under. Or find the guide in your training centre who learned from another AMI guide.
Q: If you had a do-over would you ever consider training under any other Montessori training formats?
Yes, I absolutely would, especially for primary training. I already have the theoretical basis and the intangible je nais se pas that an AMI guide brings to the table, which is groomed into you by AMI training. That inner transformation and deeper understanding of the true goals of the Montessori method that AMI burns into your brain and soul? Those can transfer to any classroom or setting I ever find myself working in.
There’s something intangible that the AMI trained guide possesses that not all people trained from other formats are guaranteed to possess as an educator. But once you already have that, the rest of it is just hands-on and intellectual knowledge of how to use and present the materials of your preferred age level. One thing I will say is that I don’t know for sure whether other training formats isolate 0-3 as its own specialization. However I would NOT recommend anyone choose 0-3 training as their first AMI training unless you meet very specific criteria for your lifestyle and career goals.
Q: Are there any drawbacks to choosing AMI training? A: yes.
First and foremost, it is possibly the most expensive Montessori teacher training format currently available (but don’t quote me on that). You do get the quality of training you’re paying for; as I’m convinced that AMI training transforms everyone as an educator. Secondly, when I did it, there was no such thing as “online” versions. Now, thanks to COVID-19, there are. And I can’t speak on what that’s like.
Secondly, it involves travel. Because the trainings never used to be online, it meant that you also had to pay for and make travel arrangements. The perk though is that it gives you a reason to live somewhere different; and that experience becomes priceless. It also meant that if you failed your exams, you had to go back to another city to pass them the following summer. Finally, there was also the rumored pregnancy curse: legend has it, someone from every 0-3 course is guaranteed to get pregnant and not be able to finish the course in the same timeframe as everyone else. Thanks, Stephanie, for taking the hit on that one for us 😅. We loved having your babies in our practicum classroom!
What travel also means for those who want to pursue in-person training is that you need to find a way to be away from your hometown for entire summers, or an academic year, in order to complete this training. It might mean you’re apart from your lover or spouse. It might mean you sublet your rental or have to pay double rent for a couple months. There were a number of mamas who brought their entire families with them to complete this training. And it means you have to find housing wherever your training centre is located. My training centre had a facebook page for its students to find housing. I lived in a studio the first summer and lived with a couple of my training colleagues the second summer.
Finally, I do believe there are certain outdated practices that AMI needs to tune up. For example, my timelines still remain in their tube, like the ancient scrolls of the bible, and I have never, ever needed to unsheathe them and all their 50 feet of watercolor painted glory. They ought to be shrunken down to like, 3 feet by 2 feet scrolls that can hang on the wall like reasonable-sized posters. Also, students should be allowed to turn our albums into printed books for the final exams so that we can mail them back to ourselves via media mail. Schlepping one million pound suitcases down the street to and from the training centre, and in airplanes is NOT fun. Nor it is easy finding somewhere to store all your huge binder albums. Also, society has changed and the AMI training curriculum needs to shed its outdated ideas about gender roles.
Q: Do you have any specific tips for people who are interested in pursuing Montessori training, or AMI training specifically?
- get your job to pay for your training whenever humanly possible.
- choose a training centre in a place you think is amazing to live and experience.
- create a facebook group and an email list for your course specifically. We did it for my 0-3 course and we still use it to this day; and I did it again for my master’s degree at Loyola. That is how you will remain in touch with your colleagues after training is over.
- Bring a very large, hard-sided rolling suitcase with you to transport all your albums to and from your dwelling to the centre during exams; and to transport your albums back home again especially if you have to fly.
- Get into a daily routine of how you will work on course requirements after you leave the training centre for the day. For me, it was to work out, eat dinner, and then to work and study again until I couldn’t take it anymore.
- Yes, it is possible to pursue training and to leave your spouse or lover back home. Me and my boyfriend facetime’d every single day; and I made one trip back home mid-summer to see my boyfriend and my family (my sister was pregnant and I flew back for her baby shower).
- Yes, it is also equally excellent to be single and pursue Montessori training. Me and my boyfriend ended up breaking up between summer 1 and summer 2 of training; and that second summer, ya girl had a fling I will never forget. You only live once; and living somewhere different in the summer could very well lead you to the love of your life. I did speed dating in PDX, LOL. Carpe Diem.
- I strongly suggest that you use watercolors to paint in your timelines. Ain’t nobody got time to sit there, coloring with colored pencils or crayons. I had also
“accidentally” colored in all the babies different skin tones of brown when people said it was supposed to represent the same babies’ PSM development across time. Turns out I was just 5 years ahead of the BLM movement 😉 The trainers didn’t care how I represented the skin tones of the babies on my timeline. But I will tell you I painted that buggah in really fast, using watercolors. Painting also relaxes me; and I encourage any way to make training work relaxing.
- Flash cards were key to helping me pass exams.
- Turning concepts into songs was a drunken idea we got one Friday after another week of training was behind us; and lemme tell you– it worked really well.
- Any time not spent working on training should be spent in worthwhile ways like self-care and imho, adventuring. I’d rather be exhausted knowing I milked every moment I could, than look back in regret, less healthy than how I came in.
- Allow yourself to be helped by peers, but understand that all of your peers are working just as hard to learn, too.
- Make the harder mobiles and materials while you’re at the training center, and can take advantage of the tutelage of thy trainers. You can always make the easier mobiles later on when you’re back at home with nothing for your hands to do while you binge watch netflix.
- I would strongly encourage anyone seeking AMI training to learn to sew before you arrive.
- I would also inquire with the trainers ahead of time if you are going to be required to furnish glue boxes or other materials that may take a long time to arrive in the mail, or get back ordered. I remember the glue boxes and other supplies took a while to arrive in the mail. Get a head start if needed.
- Know that the training centre and working in real life are not reflective of each other. The training centres are carefully curated, perfect ideals and examples of what Montessori stands to be. Real life is NOTHING like that most of the time.
Q: If you had a do-over, while knowing what you know now, would you still choose this career path, and get 0-3 AMI trained?
A: yes and no. On the one hand, my path is what brought me to the point I’m at today, living in Hawaii. And while here, I have grown in unimaginable ways. I also adored the experiences of pursuing training and getting to travel and live in other places. For the rest of my life, I am eligible to attend Montessori refresher courses and conferences all over the country and the globe thanks to pursuing AMI Montessori training. I also definitely believe it transformed me into an amazing educator. And of course I have had the opportunity to impact the lives of nearly a hundred students and their parents. And everyone who reads my blog and instagram.
However, because the payoff has not been there for me financially, and because I have faced such a high degree of difficulty working in this field as a viable career, I have now found myself forced to walk away from pursuing a classroom Montessori teaching job. I got laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic; and it is the second school I have worked for which had to lay me off because that school faced financial difficulties. It is also a recurrent consideration that I inevitably discover so many ugly hidden secrets about every single job I have been laid off from or left to pursue a hopefully better Montessori job. If I did a post of just all the ugly hidden secrets of Montessori jobs past, people would be horrified.
I am grateful for all the wisdom, knowledge, and skills that my Montessori path has given me; and all the blessings that this path has brought into my life. But if I had a do-over, knowing what I know now, I would recommend that any person interested in pursuing a career in Montessori education start off as a public school teacher. Make real money first. Here in Hawaii, you can become certified as a public school teacher for $4500 remotely on the internet, and start earning $45K out the gate. THEN, later, when you have summers off and money in the bank, go pursue a specialization in Montessori education. Give yourself financial peace of mind, and a real career, and options first. THEN get Montessori trained, and shift gears to Montessori full-time if you desire.
There will be a part 3 to this series, of how to pursue a 0-3 Montessori career, and maybe a Montessori career in general, the right way.
Mahalo (thanks) for reading!