Today, we’d like to share the experience of Celia Arseneault, a dedicated educator who completed our MCTD program and now teaches at The Montessori Children’s Academy in Short Hills. Her unique journey offers valuable insights into different teaching options available after completing a Montessori Teacher Education Program.

Embarking on the Montessori Journey

Celia’s path to becoming a Montessori teacher began with her own children. Witnessing firsthand how each child learns differently and the empowerment that freedom of movement within a prepared environment provides, Celia was inspired by Maria Montessori’s philosophy: “Help me do it by myself.” This journey not only expanded her professional horizons but also led to significant self-discovery. MCTD’s caring and devoted staff played a crucial role in her success, providing unwavering support and motivation.

From Assistant to Co-Lead Teacher

Starting as an intern and later as a part-time Assistant Teacher, Celia learned the essentials of creating a prepared Montessori environment, handling Montessori manipulatives, and the importance of observation. Despite being well-prepared and certified, she realized that transitioning to the role of Head Teacher was a significant responsibility, impacting the formative years and sensitive periods of a child’s development.

When an opportunity arose to co-lead an afternoon class at The Montessori Children’s Academy of Short Hills, Celia saw it as the perfect bridge from Assistant to Head Teacher. Co-leading offered a balanced approach to stepping into a more senior role without the immediate full responsibility of a Head Teacher.

Benefits of Co-Lead Teaching

Co-lead teaching involves sharing classroom responsibilities and accountability with another directress. This setup has several benefits:

  1. Shared Responsibilities: Tasks such as Parent-Teacher Meetings, monthly newsletters, classroom management, and seasonal projects become more manageable and successful when shared.
  2. Collaborative Efforts: The exchange of ideas and collaboration enhances the teaching experience and outcomes for students.
  3. Backup Support: Having a co-teacher means there is always someone to cover in case of family emergencies or short-term personal illness.
  4. Reassurance: The constant knowledge that you are not alone in handling classroom challenges is comforting and encouraging.

Challenges of Co-Lead Teaching

However, co-lead teaching also comes with its own set of challenges:

  1. Respect for Different Teaching Styles: Both teachers must respect each other’s teaching styles and acknowledge that these differences can provide balance for their students.
  2. Communication: There can be a breakdown in communication if not all matters are discussed with both teachers. It’s essential to share important information promptly.
  3. Unified Lesson Presentation: Teachers may have different ideas on how to present a lesson. Touring the classroom together and discussing lesson presentations can help resolve this.
  4. Equal Workload: The workload must be evenly distributed to prevent resentment and concerns over economic inequality.

The Importance of Open Communication

The key to overcoming these challenges is open communication from the start. Honest and respectful dialogue throughout the year is crucial for a successful co-lead teaching experience. This communication ensures that both teachers are on the same page and can present a united front to their students.

Mentorship and Mutual Growth

In some co-lead scenarios, one directress may be more experienced than the other. This dynamic can foster a mentorship relationship, with the senior teacher passing down valuable experience and knowledge. Alternatively, co-lead teaching can be a mutual exchange of ideas between teachers of similar experience levels. In both cases, the teachers benefit from working together, enhancing their skills and understanding of children’s development.


Co-lead teaching provides an excellent opportunity for new teachers to gain experience and prepare for future roles. A successful co-lead year can bridge gaps in experience and confidence, offering a supportive environment to grow professionally. When nurtured with respect, grace, and courtesy—the Montessori way—co-lead teaching can be incredibly rewarding for both educators and students.

Celia’s journey through the MCTD program and her experience as a co-lead teacher at The Montessori Children’s Academy highlight the benefits and challenges of this teaching model. For educators considering a Montessori Teacher Education Program, co-lead teaching offers a fulfilling and enriching path to developing their careers and making a lasting impact on their students.

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