Work Models

  1. Flow Model
  2. Sequence Model
  3. Artifact Model
  4. Cultural Model
  5. Physical Model
  6. Metaphors


  1. Design Problem
  2. Literature Review
  3. Work Models
  4. Design Patterns
  5. Design Experiments
  6. Lesson Ideas
  7. Montessori Computes
  8. Thinking About Circles

Related Links

Patterns and Design



How do artifacts move from one person to the next?  Where do they originate?  Where do they end up?

Coordination between teacher and children

Teachers are responsible for preparing the classroom environment.  They decide on the layout of materials, which includes standard Montessori didactic materials and teacher-created materials.  Layout of materials, teacher-designed materials, and accompanying activities are all designed according to Montessori principles.  Teachers make sure materials are ready for use each morning and rotate materials out of or into the classroom according the needs of the class.

Sixty-three percent of class time is devoted to the "Independent Work Period" or I.W.P (periods of student-selected work), 23 percent to group time and 14 percent to transitional activities (Neubert, 1992).

During the I.W.P., students can remove materials from the shelves.  Teachers may also remove materials to demonstrate their use to individuals or groups.  When a child is finished with a material, the child returns it to the shelf (the teacher may need to intervene to make sure this happens, but children usually do this on their own).  When the teacher finishes a demonstration, she generally makes it available to a child who is then responsible for returning it to the shelf.

Neubert (1992) observed the following child behaviors during I.W.P.:

  • Individual, independent activity (children often at same table using different materials): 41%
  • Working together on same activity: 28%
  • Other: 31%

Teachers "directed or were involved" in 11 percent of I.W.P. activities.  Although teachers consider observation an important part of the Montessori model, only about 3 percent of teachers' time was spent on observation.  "Eighty-three percent of [teacher-student] interactions observed were with one child, 12.5 percent with two children, and 4.5 percent with three or more children... Overall, 71.6 percent of all activity choices on average were child initiated, and 28.4 percent teacher initiated or teacher assisted." (Neubert, 1992, pp. 64-65)

Coordination between teacher and Montessori organizations

Montessori organizations such as the American Montessori Society and the Association Montessori Internationale train and certify teachers as well as accreditting schools. They also recommend manufacturers of Montessori materials (Neinhuis and Gonzagarredi are a couple of respected manufacturers) and so indirectly influence decisions that teachers make about purchasing materials and making materials available in their classrooms. [Add stats about percentage of standard Montessori materials in classrooms]


Materials from Neinhuis and Gonzagarredi are very expensive, making startup costs for a Montessori school relatively high [stats? comparative long term costs?].

Coordination between teacher and scientist

In the wider educational community, there are a variety of ways for teachers and researchers to exchange information:

  • teacher as action researcher
  • various kinds of teacher-researcher collaboration
  • transmission model, in which teacher receives and implements results of research
    • reading published research results
    • teacher training and workshops


Researchers have found that teachers rarely base their decisions on research (Hargreaves, 1999, Louis et. al., 1984 as cited by Atkinson, 1992). Various reasons are given for this finding.

  • teachers generally have insufficient time, background or support to conduct research, participate in research or read research (Schoenfeld & Burkhardt, 2003), or insufficient support to apply training
  • some changes in practice may be beyond the control of a particular teacher or administrator
  • improving practice may not be a goal of a particular researcher, research paper, or conference
  • researcher may not make a case for change that is persuasive enough to merit the effort
  • it may be too difficult to figure out how to translate research findings into changes to practice
  • research results may be too difficult to implement
  • researchers typically select research problems according to their own agendas rather than asking teachers what problems need to be solved or which best practices need to be investigated (Schoenfeld & Burkhardt, 2003)
Montessori's model of teacher-researcher interaction

Like Dewey (and many present day educational researchers), she felt that the teacher had an important role to play in educational research.

The [classroom teacher] can make psychological observations which, if collected in an orderly way and according to scientific standards, should do much toward the reconstruction of child psychology and the development of experimental psychology. I believe that I have by my method established the conditions necessary to the development of scientific pedagogy; and whoever adopts the method opens, in doing so, a laboratory of experimental pedagogy (Montessori, 1912, p. 371)

In practice however, Montessori teachers typically spend little time observing children (see above)

Interaction between researchers

The poor reputation of educational research is sometimes attributed to a failure on the part of educational researchers to communicate effectively with researchers in other fields.