Monday, January 24, 2011


I received the following question by email:

"I am just now getting into all this Montessori stuff and I have LOTS of decisions to make. I am now located on the West coast, but will be relocating to the East Coast in a couple years. I am stuck between AMI vs. AMS training and was wondering which one you do/did? From looking at their websites, it appears as though AMI is more popular on the West Coast than on the East Coast? I have been away from the east coast for years, so I was wondering how Montessori is accepted over there and what your experience was with AMI vs. AMS?

This is not an area of expertise for me, but I tried to help with the following answer. If you have insight to share, I know it would be appreciated. Please share your experience in the comments.

Congratulations on your decision to (maybe?) pursue Montessori training! I am an odd duck on this subject, because my training is lesser-known here in the states - it is neither AMI nor AMS. My certification is from Montessori Centre International (MCI), which is a training center based in London that was started in 1998 when Montessori St. Nicholas. joined together with the London Montessori Centre. There was an MCI training center in Denver, which is where I completed my training.

I did, however, intern under AMS certified teachers and have only taught in AMS affiliated schools since my internship, so my knowledge of AMS vs. AMI is based solely on things I've read and what I have learned from other teachers. The whole of my teaching experience was in Colorado and Texas, so I'm not particularly knowledgeable on the East Coast vs. West Coast subject either. AMS is more popular in Colorado, which may have to do with the fact that it is home to a large AMS training center (Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, or MECR), and from what I gathered in my short time there, is also more common in Texas.

My thought from the experience that I do have in the Montessori community is that passionate teachers are always needed. The philosophical differences between AMI and AMS are minor, but they do exist. To me, the most important thing would be which one you feel is more aligned with your style of interacting with children, as I would expect that you could find a job regardless of whether your training is more popular in the area where you live. While I have had to explain what my training was to every interviewer I have met with, I have had no shortage of job offers. If both programs are equally feasible for you, I would recommend that you observe in at least two AMS schools and two AMI schools, talk with teachers, and make your decision from there.

I'm sorry that I'm not more help on this particular issue. I will post your question and my answer on my blog and see if anyone else can jump in and offer some insight! Good luck to you!



Tammy Chabria said...

I would actually look into the Center for Guided Studies, instead. They are MACTE accredited and I find that they are more true to Dr. Montessori's original work than either AMI or AMS. Good luck!

Annicles said...

Hey - I have the MCI certificate too! I didn' think anyone outside of Britain had even heard of it.

melissa joanne said...

Thanks for the input, Tammy.

Anna, you are mostly right! Every time I have gone for an interview, I have gotten funny looks. I always have to explain myself, and since the Denver center is no longer MCI, I suspect that it will remain all but unknown in the states! Is your school staffed mostly with MCI certified teachers, or is it a mix? How do you feel like it compares to AMI training?

Anonymous said...

Take the AMI training. It is really good. I took the training in MN last year and it has been the best decision I have ever made :-)

Andrea mason said...

I will have to look into the Center for Guided Studies. I am AMI trained and can't imagine other courses being MORE true to Dr. Montessori's teaching, since she actually founded AMI. Over the years AMI was overseen by her son Mario and now by her grandaughter Renilde. Personally, I'm not too concerned with who has what training. Hopefully, we're all here to serve the children in the best way possible.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting topic. I'm a parent and trying to understand the certification process of a MCI school. Do you, as a teacher, have to take test every year to update your certification? If a school claims they are MCI certified, what must the school do to maintain their certification? What extra must the school do to be accredited? I understand you are more familiar with MCI, but if you could compare your certification process with AMI/AMS i.e. easier or stricter, it would be great. Thank you so much and I look forward to your knowledge sharing.

Anonymous said...

I personally have an AMI diploma and find there are many philosophical and practical differences in all the other certifications. AMI does not believe in homework or pre-printed work for the children. AMS and the others use some traditional schooling methods into the classrooms. AMI teachers allows all work to stem from the child and allows the child to feel the joy in his work. The younger the age, the greater the effort and that attitude is encouraged and fostered in AMI teachers and schools.

The AMI training used to be 2 years which I think it still should be. The AMS and other trainings are less intensive and some even offer online diplomas. I had a friend who took the St. Nicholas course in London and then years later took the AMI with us. She cried and cried saying she had wasted time and money taking the other course. This was just her experience.

Honestly, as one of your other commenters mentioned it's about serving the children with the right approach.

If anyone is interested in doing the training, I highly recommend you observe a teacher and classroom that has all types of training and then you decide which is best for you. Obviously, I am very partial to AMI as I do believe it maintains Montessori's original philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I took the AMS training back in 2003 with the Montgomery Montessori Institute. The AMS training was rigorous. It started with two months training in June and July learning all about the philosophy and the materials used in each section of the classroom. We had homework every weekend, essays to write and lessons to prepare and present in class. Then we all went through a full school year of internship (Sept-June) under the supervision of a trained teacher. During that year, you continue having monthly meetings at the Institute where you get to talk about the challenges of the classroom. The practice of the material with a child versus what you learned during the summer with just another bunch of adults. I found these sessions very useful as we discovered the many ways of teaching. We talked about how we struggled with requests from parents and how to adress them. We had a year-long examination of a child or topic for which we had to fill in 'observation forms' (which were very useful in training you to become a better observer and therefore a better guide) and we had to do at least 5 external visits to other schools with a report stating what was learned, special activities observed and comments for improvement on our own way of teaching. It ended in June with both written exams and oral exams on each topic. After a year of internship, the only thing I felt a little ill prepared for was 'classroom management tools" (how to deal with a disruptive to engage a whole group, etc...) but this is kind of natural for all new teacher.
The AMI training from what I know has the reverse approach. You spend a year training with adult peers, refining your knowledge of the materials and then you get two months internship with children before you get your diploma.
For me the other way worked better as it allowed me to learn the theory, experience the reality, question and apply.
Just one last comment on the worksheets used in some Montessori.
According to my past experience, AMS does not TEACH you to use worksheets. We are trained to use the materials and follow the child's needs. However it is true some schools give 'guidelines' to teachers about sending home some sort of paper trail to show what the child is doing in class. The school I worked for before I left for overseas had "Weekly Notes" that were sent out to parents by each class teacher saying what 'group lessons' had been taught. We were also in charge of carpooling and we used the time to 'buckle up the child in his/her carseat to share some basic info with the parents. "Today, Johny had so much fun using the multiplication board' ..maybe he can tell you all about it ".. and yes, I must admit we also had a few worksheets, but they were on the shelves linked to certain activities and the children could elect to use them or not. Just so you know, if at your 'Back-to-school' night, you strongly affirm that Montessori is about the process not the product (ie paper) then parents will understand a lot better and will not question you.
Good luck with the training. It's a great experience.

Anonymous said...

I have just obtained my MCI diploma, i am wondering if i would be able to get a job as a teacher in the US.. does anyone know?? if i would have to change to AMI then how would i go about it

melissa said...

@anonymous - My certification is through MCI as well, and I've been teaching in the US for 10 years. Have never had trouble getting a job!

andrea said...

Hello I am about to start the MCI Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy – Birth to Seven in the online mode. I want to know if someone here already did it and what is your honest opinion about it. It will help me so much!! Thanks!!!