Journal Entry

Q&A with Joel Mendes: MACTE accreditation confirms commitment to quality

Prepared Montessorian trainings 'rethink what exists, draw upon what works, and help Montessori educators thrive'

The Prepared Montessorian, a toolkit for the Montessori professional, was recently accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). In conversation with Joel Mendes, the Executive Director of the Prepared Montessorian, we discussed what this means for the organization moving forward, and how it will ultimately impact prospective Montessori teachers worldwide. 

Click here to learn more about how the Prepared Montessorian began. 

How does the MACTE accreditation benefit Prepared Montessorian? 

MACTE is the only body recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit Montessori teacher education programs. They do significant work with policy-makers to ensure that Montessori training programs hold the weight and earn the credit that teacher certifications outside of Montessori do with the goal of making accredited Montessori training meet local legal and licensing requirements that all teachers must meet in jurisdictions all around the country (and world). 

What does this mean for prospective teachers?

This means that our training, with the accreditation, holds an increasing power to unlock opportunities for the people who earn diplomas through us. In many states, our diploma will be all one needs to work in the early-childhood field, and in one state, it is all one needs to teach at any school in the entire state!

This, in itself, will allow us to attract more people to take our trainings and to, in return, allow us to offer something with legs that could benefit our graduates for the rest of their lives. Once they have our training, they’re fully trained and recognized Montessori educators, ready to work at all schools that require MACTE certification. More than the access this allows us and our graduates, the accreditation confirms our commitment to quality as we grow. 

How does the Prepared Montessorian work to optimize these learnings?

We’re using technology (VR experiences, cultivated video observations, filming practice teaching, meeting through video conferences, learning from an online library of model lessons, etc.), we’re offering training in a modularized format, and we’re challenging ways in which traditional trainings have been delivered while honoring what is proven to be effective in those same trainings. Becoming accredited confirms that this innovation is welcomed and encouraged and that, as a result, we have a chance to influence others as much as others have influenced us in the Montessori training sphere. We’re looking forward to working with others as we all aim to achieve the same goals of bringing Montessori to more and more children while ensuring that quality remains the focus as we grow. 

What does this change mean for Higher Ground Education? 

We’re committed to learning and professional development as an organization and creating career growth opportunities for our current team, and this accreditation confirms it. We are invested in hiring the best people and helping them grow in ways that other Montessori schools simply can’t. 

Before, if one wanted to come in as an assistant guide and become a certified lead guide, they would have to pause their work, attend training elsewhere (including bearing the costs), and focus on learning. Then, when finished, they could find work to employ their learning. Our training incorporates learning and working explicitly and it offers opportunity for career advancement without the sacrifices. 

This means those who seek work as assistant guides at Guidepost Montessori schools can join the team in that role and plan their growth right from the start. We can optimize for hiring those with this growth mindset, and then have a supply of lead guide positions waiting for those who take the opportunity to train as we open new schools and grow those in our widening network. Our schools are better served with prepared guides, and our guides are better served with real, tangible career growth. 

What has your relationship been like with MACTE? How have they been supportive in this endeavor? 

MACTE has been incredibly supportive, open, and collaborative as we have gone through the process of accreditation. It is rare that they accredit a training center as young as ours and as comprehensive as ours (we’re one of only four in the world that offer programming for teachers of all levels, preparing educators to work with students age 0 all the way to age 18).

They have helped us think through the implications of some of our wildest ideas and have encouraged us to try new things and learn from them. They are explicitly enabling our innovation and hope that what we discover helps us thrive and helps others to benefit, too. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and share our learning within the community of other MACTE accredited programs and though MACTE themselves. 

What does the accreditation by MACTE mean to you?

We’re interested in changing the way people learn to be Montessori guides, to seriously look at how adults learn out of respect and admiration for how Dr. Montessori approached helping children learn. We are observing circumstances in which adults are most successful learning and employing their new knowledge into actions. Then we are designing the training to tap into these circumstances when they naturally occur as a guide begins working with students in a Montessori environment or creating them so learning can be optimized. Our training is centered on rethinking what exists, drawing upon what works, and employing all we can to help Montessori educators thrive! We are in the industry of creating opportunity and growth — what’s better than that?

Read a Q&A with Matt Bateman, Higher Ground’s Vice President of Content, on Prepared Montessorian’s trainings.  

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