Class size

Discussion in 'General Education' started by nstructor, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Do you think class size has anything to do with students' performance, behavior, classroom management,. . .? I teach middle school and last year my class sizes averaged around 18ish, which is very rare for an urban school. This year my classes will probably be in the upper 20's. I'm very anxious about this and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  3. Global Teacher

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    Class size is probably one of the most important variables when it comes to quality of education. This is especially important because unlike factors like student study habits and home situations, class size is controlled by education policy makers.

    Small class size is especially important with students who are less focused and more disruptive. It is much easier for a teacher to control this kind of class when it is smaller.

    Smaller classes also mean more individualized attention for each student. This can lead to faster progress and better understanding of the material regardless of the level and behavior of the students.

    With middle school students, you'll definitely need to work harder to maintain order with the larger classes you'll have next year.
     
  4. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Short answer is a resounding YES. All the research out there and my own anecdotal evidence and observations have shown that it makes a HUGE difference. My experience is only with elementary, but the behavioral differences and individualized instruction that students receive in a class of 20 vs 30 vs 35 are miles apart. Can you make it work with 30+? Sure, yes. It's still not ideal. I do think it can work better in middle and high school than elementary, but smaller is still better.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I do think class size matters. It just goes to show the differences between where you are and where I am when you say that you are feeling some anxiety about having classes in the upper 20s. To me, that would be basically heaven. I have frequently taught classes in the mid-40s, as high as the 50s, also in an urban/inner-city setting.
     
  6. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I teach music now and class size definitely affects student behavior/classroom management. Some of my classes have up to 33 students and they are definitely the hardest to manage.

    In the regular classroom my classes always ranged from 25-32. I've never really had a small class!
     
  7. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    YES! It matters.
     
  8. TeachOn

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    Mine run 12 to 22, depending upon the nature of the course. This just right, I think.

    Districts with classes in the 30's, 40's. and (forsooth!) 50's should just take out a full-page ad saying,"We don't give a s--t," then disband.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yes it matters...to teachers.

    When budget cuts hit, class size reduction was the very very first thing to go.
     
  10. FourSquare

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    We have 40 in each 7th grade homeroom this year. That is, if nobody transfers or gets held back. Even if we lose 4 that's still 39 in each room.

    We consolidated 5 homerooms into 4 in order to make the incoming 6th grade have smaller class sizes. (Argument: 6th is a benchmark grade.)

    We literally don't have space for 10 homerooms, so 9 it is! The district has ignored our begging for a trailer classroom or building addition. It's disgusting. The rooms aren't even big enough for 32 kids, let alone 40.
     
  11. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Grrr.

    [Insert rant here.]
     
  12. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Absolutely! I have had up to 33 students in one class. That is three more students than desks, and it meant assigning students to be the 'roamers' each week and take the place of absent students. Aside from logistics, having smaller classes allows me to get to know the students better, thus being able to tune in to their specific educational needs.
     
  13. 1cubsfan

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    I think class size matters, but I think that it hits a point that it's just BIG. I also think specific students matter more than just the overall class side. Certain students require more time/effort/attention, and I think having these students can make a small class more difficult. Two years ago I had a class of 17 and a class of 32, and the class of 32 was much easier. My lowest performers and my highest performers were in the big class and my single most difficult student was in the big class. But in the small class, 12 of the 17 students had something that made them require more effort than the standard student.

    Edited to add: I looked for formal research regarding class size, and I could find no research that compared small classes with large classes. On compared classes of 18 to 24, and another a class of 30 to a class of 36... I would like to see them compared 18 to 30+!
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

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    I think it depends on the class that is being taught. If you have an honors or an AP course where the students are motivated and bright, you could have a large class and do exceptionally well. Students that are unmotivated or are motivated to disrupt class, smaller classes will be much better.

    However, you can have class sizes that are way too small to be effective. The class becomes more of a tutoring session and the students aren't able to see the many different perspectives that come from peers.
     
  15. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I had dinner with my friend last night who teaches 6th grade. She said some of the 4th grade classes started at 48 last year, and 5th and 6th had 38. They created one more class, moved some kids around and got to an average of 36. They put support teachers in with 4th and 6th grade but still.....craziness, imo.
     
  16. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Class size definitely makes a difference but the personalities in the class also contribute greatly. I would rather have my over capacity class of physics students again than see my extremely immature freshman class of 20 for another year.
     
  17. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    It makes an enormous difference.

    But California certainly doesn't think so.

    I'm at a charter with class size caps, so I won't have over 21 in first grade. I student taught in 6th grade with 34 and 2nd grade with 32. It is quite common to have over 30 in every grade, K-12. 4th grade and up gets above 35 quite frequently. My friend student taught in 5th grade with 37 kids.

    It just doesn't even make sense anymore...
     
  18. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Of course it makes a difference!

    The space difference alone is enough for me. The years I have 35 per class we are packed. We have to turn sideways to walk between desks. There is no way to do group work. We can't move!

    I prefer classes from 20-25.
     
  19. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Yes, it definitely makes a difference!
     
  20. platypusok

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    I've been lucky and each year I've had a class of less than 13 and we can do so much with a small class. A few years ago I had 11 in an 8th grade U.S. history class and they were mostly "troublemakers" but we had a blast.

    But as a previous poster said, it also depends on the students in the class. Last year, I had 40 sophomores (27 in one section and 13 in another) and I had one section of 8th grade language arts with 30 students. I told my P that I would rather have the sophomores together in one class than the 8th graders. And the sophomores weren't perfect. I have freshmen English next year and if they don't split that class and give half of them to the other English teacher, I may cry.
     
  21. YoungTeacherGuy

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    There are school districts in my state that have 32 second graders in a classroom. I'm fortunate to only have 24, but I remember having only 20 students during my first four years teaching.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    You're completely right!!!

    Reading some of those numbers makes me dizzy! :dizzy:
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    YES! Huge.
     
  24. indigo-angel

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    Class size has lots do with the classroom climate. Smaller classes can be more focused and intimate, and in my experience, we accomplish more and the students get along better. In larger classes upper 20's to 30's it becomes crowd control and glorified babysitting.
     
  25. TeacherShelly

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    It matters to teachers and students. It is simply not the same hanging with a group of 20 7-9 year olds vs. 23 of them. Even the "small" groups are bigger!
     
  26. 2ndTimeAround

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    I've had more students than I have had seats. Unlike my coworkers that scramble around and totally revamp their classroom layout, I put the extra students at a supply table or have them sit near another flat surface. I do not allow them to sit at my desk due to privacy issues. Within three days a few students gets schedule changes, especially when they find out that there are other classes with ten or more fewer students than in mine.

    A couple of years ago an aquaintance in a neighboring school had 44 students in her room. She was a second year teacher. There wasn't enough room for desks so someone put a bench and clipboards along the back wall.

    I understand that high school classes can be bigger because students do not need as much one-on-one attention. What I don't think politicians understand is that high school classrROOMS are the same size if not smaller than elementary school rooms. But the people in them are twice as big. Sometimes there is no room to walk around. No exaggeration, if I gained 30 pounds, I would lose so much effectiveness in my classroom management because I couldn't get close to my students.
     
  27. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    As much as I agree that class size is important, I do not agree with this. I have seen WONDERFUL teaching and learning occur in classrooms with more than 30 students. Is it ideal? Absolutely not. It is a lot more work for the teacher, and there is not as much individual attention. But it is FAR from glorified babysitting. I'm not trying to be argumentative, but in my state, I simply cannot have the view that large class size=the inability to teach. If that is the case, I may as well quit now. As teachers, we just have to do the best we can with what we are given. :2cents:
     
  28. Global Teacher

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    Good point. As teachers, we can point out that the number of students in the class varies inversely with the quality of the instruction. However we can't use it as an excuse to give up and resort to babysitting.

    A student can still get a good education in a large class. It just means we teachers have to work harder, and students have to settle for less attention and more interruptions than they would have in a smaller class setting.

    The real issue is policy, and unfortunately the hard work we put into maintaining a positive learning environment in large classes gives policy makers the justification to keep classes large and even increase class sizes. This is to the detriment of students, and I believe that it contributes to teacher burnout as well.
     
  29. Croissant

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    I think this is one of those things where you'll get a different answer depending on who you ask. "Experts" and administrators may say that it doesn't matter. Teachers will definitely say it makes a difference.

    Some of the numbers I'm reading....Wow! I have so much respect for you guys! I honestly don't feel like I'm a strong enough teacher (yet) to be effective in a classroom with that many students.

    When I started my first year, my biggest class had 27 students in it. By the end of the year, there were 30. There would have been more, but when the office tried to add more, I demanded that they close that class period. It wouldn't seem like 3 extra students would make a difference, but it really did.

    However, I agree that sometimes who's in the class make a bigger difference than the size. My two worst classes this year were my biggest and my smallest. Go figure.
     
  30. Pashtun

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    I will never forget this.

    When I started in my district we had classize reduction, 20 students per class. Never heard a peep in anyway regarding the effectiveness/ineffectivness..etc. Budget cuts came, class size reduction was the very very very first thing to go(and I mean like 10 minutes after the budget came out, the district had made up its mind). I will never forget the Assistant super coming around saying "its not classize that matters, its engagement" I almost vomited in my mouth. I wanted to tell her "yeah, its much easier engaging 37 10 year olds than 20.....
     
  31. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Yep! This sounds like California! I'm always amazed that other states still have caps, because it's been so many years since California stopped caring about that.
     

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