Course Descriptions 

& High-Residency Program Sequence 

What to expect:

Complete your Montessori Secondary Credential in 2 summers.

Five weeks Summer 1, Practicum Year (two Intensives during the school year), Three weeks Summer 2

Year 1


This is a prerequisite course. For those adult learners who do not already hold a Montessori Credential, CMStep requires Overview as an introduction to Montessori Education. If you already hold a credential, please send a copy of your certification along with your application to be assessed for credit and exemption from Overview.

This is a self-paced online course that must be completed before Winter Intensive with the following required pre-reading:

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Dan Siegel

The Way of Mindful Education by Daniel Rechtschaffen

Teaching with Love and Logic by James Fay

Maria Montessori: A Biography by Rita Kramer

This course is an examination of the basic tenets of Montessori philosophy through the exploration of Dr. Montessori’s deep understanding of the early years of life. Using the seminal texts The Secret of Childhood and The Discovery of the Child, videos of working Montessori classrooms, and other resources, adult learners will learn about the goals of Montessori education, the characteristics of the child in the first six years of life, and how each component of the Montessori system contributes to the whole. We will explore deeply the role of the teacher as a guide and undertake exercises in observation. The course consists of a series of discrete modules that are to be completed independently at the adult learners’ own pace. Each module will involve a text, video and/or audio, an experiential exercise, and a reflection. Contact with the instructor will take place via e-mail.

Why this course? Montessori is a highly nuanced pedagogical theory developed over the course of fifty years. It provides an overarching theory of human development that spans from birth through adulthood. A strong background in the framework of Montessori philosophy makes for stronger teachers and programs. Understanding the early years of development and how the human brain and personality are constructed will give adult learners a deeper appreciation for how the adolescent brain and personality develop.

Other Prerequisite Work

In preparation for the summer we ask that our enrollees complete the following BEFORE they begin training.

  1. Purchase, read, annotate and bring with you to Cincinnati:
  • The Way of Mindful Education by Daniel Rechtschaffen
  • Maria Montessori: A Biography by Rita Kramer
  • Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brainby Dan Siegel
  • Teaching With Love and Logic by Jim Fay
  1. Download, read, annotate, and bring with you to Cincinnati all articles from here.
  1. Watch each of the short videos located here.

We understand that some teachers have circumstances, like being hired very close to the start of training,  that prevent them from having an opportunity to be prepared. Please contact the CMStep office if this is the case and we will work with you to complete your work.

Montessori Philosophy

Adult learners in this course will read Montessori’s life, and discuss current trends and issues in Montessori education, adolescent development, and philosophy specifically as they apply to the education of the adolescent. An overview of adolescent development will emphasize developmental characteristics in the physical, psychological, social and moral/spiritual realms. Adult learners will explore the writings of Montessori and discuss adaptations of these theories in light of current research and best practices. They will also be able to participate in experiential exercises in community building, mindfulness, and attachment theory. This course includes Fall and Winter Intensives.

Why this course? It is important for all teachers to understand and be able to articulate the reasons they are teaching in a less traditional, more effective way, and how that connects to the development of the adolescent.

Introduction to Curriculum

This course encompasses the basic principles and practices throughout the scope and sequence of the elementary curriculum within Montessori classrooms for ages 6-12. These principles include: an introduction to the concepts of sensitive periods and developmental stages, the three modes of learning, the three period lesson, concrete to abstract, isolation of difficulty, point of interest, classification, and nomenclature cards used for early research. Presentations in each content area of Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies will demonstrate how the spiraling curriculum builds upon itself, sequencing into greater detail and focus. Adult learners will have opportunities for hands-on practice with Montessori didactic materials with a special focus on those that are appropriate for the secondary classroom. They will be expected to complete individual, paired, or group exercises in math and geometry, grammar, science classification, and timelines for history, as well as Montessori’s Great Lessons. Cooperative group presentations will culminate the course.

Why this course? Adolescents still need to occasionally see or work with materials to be reminded of their previous learning. Not only that, there are ways in which the materials can be used in very sophisticated ways to illustrate complicated concepts that are applicable to high school students!


This course is designed to bring Maria Montessori’s “Erdkinder” essay to life. Throughout this experience, adult learners form a strong community through seminars on stewardship and sustainability, shared work projects, and activities that illustrate the cycle of life and death. A packing list will be provided upon registration. This is a physically challenging course; however, the ability and tolerance of each participant is respected.

Why this course? The web of life and the concept of interdependence permeate all of Montessori’s work. Every Montessori adolescent program has a land component, and this course gives adult learners a structure to help them establish “Erdkinder” projects in their own schools. It also helps teachers learn how to engage students in caring for themselves, the school, and all living things.

Montessori Secondary Curriculum Development

This course will provide adult learners with an overview of Montessori secondary classroom structure and organization, the structure for the development of a lively curriculum for the adolescent tailored to each individual school’s needs, and a model of the philosophy in action. In this course, the adult learner will understand the basics in:

  • creating a Montessori classroom environment
  • developing student leadership and community
  • developing integrated curricula with impressionistic lessons, Montessori materials, and projects
  • uniting academic content within a theme that is appropriate to development of the adolescent
  • implementing Socratic dialogue in all content areas
  • designing meaningful kick-off and culminating experiences
  • guiding student-led conferences
  • making self-assessment opportunities for students
  • facilitating and debriefing group initiatives
  • managing large blocks of instructional time, designing a daily schedule
  • teaming with colleagues

This course also contains a Paideia Seminar/Socratic Dialogue component. The Paideia philosophy describes Socratic dialogue/seminar as a mode of teaching that is essential for helping students develop true critical thinking abilities. By practicing the seminar process in this course as well as all other CMStep courses, adult learners will learn to select appropriate pieces to use in seminar discussions, to organize and orchestrate seminars for success, to scaffold questions to engage the students, and to routinely utilize the seminar approach to understand “great works” of literature, art, music, historical documents, and other writings in all subject areas. Critical and creative thinking will be emphasized.

Why this course? Finding ways to teach in a more dynamic and integrated way requires a curriculum that reflects those qualities. Adult learners in this course will develop their first Montessori plan of study on which future studies will be based. This course provides a foundation that integrates Montessori philosophy, academic standards, and thematic study.

School Year
Mindfulness Fundamentals

This online course explores the usefulness of a regular mindfulness practice. Adult Learners are expected to complete this 6 week course and submit their certificate of completion before the fall intensive. Our adult learners have implemented mindfulness in their classrooms with wonderful results and many report that their regular practice in their private lives has not only made them better teachers, but better spouses, parents, and community members.

Fall Intensive

This Intensive is held in Cincinnati and allows the cohort to come back together for a much needed revitalization and connection after a summer of hard work and the start of a cycle of study, where adult learners will begin putting their summer work into practice. Before the intensive, adult learners will have scheduled and completed their observations of all the different levels of the Elementary 1 and Elementary 2 Montessori Classrooms.

Winter Intensive

This intensive is held in Cincinnati, where the cohort comes back together to review videos of their work (recorded ahead of time) and again rekindle the love for teaching that we all share. Other assignments given at Fall Intensive will be checked in, as well as planning the Year Long Project and submitting proposals.

Year-long Project

This course will focus on independent study in the form of a research project that will be completed during the practicum year. Why this course? Teachers need to demonstrate their own excitement and curiosity about learning, delve into their own questions about classroom practice, and be prepared to help students learn to do research as an aid to engaging the learning process.

Year 2

Pedagogy of Place

Pedagogy of Place gives adult learners a chance to experience a real field study. During this class, adult learners will also learn to design their own experiential courses that integrate field studies with Socratic dialogue and service projects.

Why this course? We care about the things we understand. In well-designed field studies, adolescents take topics learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. This approach engages and inspires students in ways that book-learning can’t.

Montessori Structure & Organization

In Structure & Organization, adult learners spend each day of the two week course focused on one key aspect of the structure and organization of a Montessori secondary classroom. Adult learners develop materials that they will use in their classrooms in the next school year through a student centered class structure that emphasizes research, sharing, and Socratic dialogue. This course is an extension of Curriculum Development.

Why this course? Check Curriculum Development.

School Year
Final Synthesis Paper

As a final assignment for the Montessori Secondary Credential, adult learners submit a final Synthesis Paper that brings together all of the resources and readings from the course work. The paper gives the Learner an opportunity to demonstrate a clear understanding of Montessori philosophy, as well as reflections on its practical application, self-reflection, and explanation of other core principals of a Montessori education.