In schools across the country, large class size has become the rule, rather than the exception, creating management issues for many teachers.
As class sizes increase across the country, teachers find themselves faced with challenges that stem from managing many more students than should be in one classroom with a single educator. Many problems can arise when teachers are forced to not only teach and remain abreast of advancements in their subjects, but also attempt to engage with 25, 30, or even 40 students, as their large class size becomes larger.
These issues can manifest as discord between students and a teacher, or disharmony between classmates. Quiet, introverted, or easily intimidated students might blend into the background of a large class size, becoming forgotten members of a classroom.
As education funding is reduced, or not allocated properly, and the teacher shortage continues to diminish the amount of dedicated, qualified educators, the remaining teaching professionals are going to be worn thin as they are made responsible for more students. With classes that are too big, some students are more likely to compete with teachers for class attention by assuming the role of clown in an attempt to grab the spotlight. The frustration caused by large class size often leads to teacher burnout.
Speaking with WNYC, Arthur Goldstein, SchoolBook contributor and teacher of high school, reveals the additional challenges between teaching a larger class size comprising 34 students and those that include 25 children, or fewer.
“Kids are unpredictable, and kids need attention. In smaller classes, you can give them the attention they need. You can allow them to express themselves and you don’t have to make them be quiet so that others get a chance to speak. It isn’t our job to simply have to make them be quiet so that others get a chance to speak. It is not our job to simply make kids memorize information and regurgitate it on the multiple choice tests, but rather to encourage their participation in classes and society.”
There are ways that teachers can begin pushing back against the trend of large class size. Through using a few different tactics, teachers can begin easing this burden and focus on child development and student achievement.
1. Divide and Conquer
When trying to teach and deal with a large class size, divide children into smaller groups. Rather than focusing on one enormous room of students, teachers will be able to walk through the room, between groups, asking guiding questions, and maintain control over the classroom.
2. Flip Out
By implementing a flipped classroom, teachers can give greater responsibility to students who will complete lessons at home and reshape the classroom setting. As students come to class eager to perform work related to the lessons they completed at home, they will be more interested in applying and deepening knowledge they learned, rather than disrupting the class.
3. Become Involved
Sometimes teachers have to be their own advocates. Lead the charge for education reform by launching petitions gathering support for reducing large class size. Call local officials who influence education policy and work with them to develop solutions for hiring more competent teachers. Encourage parents, colleagues, and administrators to join the effort and improve learning outcomes for all students.
Large class size is detrimental to the teacher-student relationship, as it prevents interaction and shifts focus away from education of individual pupils to management of a big group. This issue will not simply correct itself, therefore it is up to teachers and the communities in which they work to demand and implement solutions.