It's better than it sounds.....
I'll be honest with you sometimes I don't plan what I am going to teach everyday.
I have a vague inkling of what might be covered but I don't necessarily go in and tell the child that is what we are going to be learning.
Through observing children, listening, and having a knowledge of the Montessori curriculum I am able to work out what needs to be presented and when I need to stand back.
Sometimes I throw my idea out the window and roll with what I see or end up in conversation with a child about. What I do have in my head is the general Montessori Scope and Sequence, ideas of what materials I can draw on to expand or explore a concept, and my knowledge of that student including what areas they have and haven't had lessons on or show a need for lessons on. Marching through a "checklist" of items to do means I am not following the natural ebb and flow of the child's learning.
I am going to say that this is easier to do when you have fewer children in your care or you have admin that allows you this type of flexibility and in a class where children with extra learning needs have the support they need.
Today I was working with "N" who is 10 and hasn't been to Montessori before. "N" sees me one time a week and loves our puppy. She talks lots about dogs and animals in general. In the last two weeks we have discussed all manner of things about dogs!
We were sitting on the floor playing with the dog and after a while I asked her "Do you know what type of animal a dog is?" she said to me "a canine." I agreed and asked if she had heard the word mammal before. I walked over to a table and got out the 3 part cards about mammals and talked them through with her. The example animal I had was a horse. I introduced the answer cards and then she wanted to know which were essential to being defined as a mammal as we don't have tails yet the cards defined a mammal as having a tail.
Upon completion she spontaneously started talking about birds, hearing that she was making a comparison between the two I got out the "characteristics of vertebrates" and did that with her. She was interested in the similarities between the different classes of vertebrates and we had a good discussion about eggs and how some animals lay them in a nest and others don't. We also discussed circulation in depth.
The puppy was still on the floor and we talked some more about the puppy then I pulled up some books from "Epic" and we read some books together about different dog breeds stopping to talk about any interesting details we read in the books.
Each child is different however in Montessori we are prepared adults. We are asked to have a comprehensive knowledge of the curriculum and be able to present it to the child in a way that meets their needs.
"We ourselves have lost this deep and vital sensitiveness, and in the presence of children in whom we see it reviving, we feel as if we were watching a mystery being unfolded. It shows itself in the delicate act of free choice, which a teacher untrained in observation can trample on before she even discerns it, much as an elephant tramples the budding flower about to blossom in its path.
The child whose attention has once been held by a chosen object, while he concentrates his whole self on the repetition of the exercise, is a delivered soul in the sense of the spiritual safety of which we speak. From this moment there is no need to worry about him - except to prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', 248)
Observation is important so we need to be spending a fair bit of our time observing and not "over teaching".
The teacher...must be able to make prudent observations, to assist a child by going up to, or withdrawing from, him, and by speaking or keeping silence in accordance with his needs. She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications (Dr Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child,' 151)
I'm not going to say I am perfect at this by any means but I am working on it. Having a child with extra learning needs has especially helped me understand the awesomeness of letting the child take the lead!