The Montessori Method is named after Maria Montessori, an Italian born in 1870 She was originally a medical doctor, and then went on to study the development of children.
She managed a Childrens' House in Rome for under-privileged children and gradually gathered information about how children learn by watching them play freely with each other. She realized that children learn by exploring their environment. She also saw that children want to be able to do things for themselves.
In a Montessori daycare centre or school, the children can choose what they do according to their needs. Montessori made special toys or tools which help children to develop the skills they need for the real world. There is freedom to use these tools but they must be used properly and safely.They are put on open shelves which the children can take and use by themselves. The teacher in a Montessori classroom shows the child how to use a tool and then the child is left to use it by himself, again and again if he wants.
Montessori said, "The child says, Help me to let me do it myself." In ESL classes (English as a Second Language) using phonics as a tool for self learning, and letting students use questions and answers in games help to take the focus off the teacher and onto the students. I see my teaching role as less of a leader and hopefully more of a director and a supporter.