Small Class--What would/do you do differently?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by amakaye, May 20, 2011.

  1. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Oct 20, 2004
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    May 20, 2011

    For the first time last night, I started thinking about just how small my class next year will be. There are only 11 right now, and while it may change, it would most likely only be by 1 or 2. (This is a small parochial school.)

    So, I'm really starting to get excited about this, and I'm looking for suggestions on things I can do to really maximize the benefits of having such a small group. Any thoughts from those who teach small classes? Or, what would be your first ideas if you were going to have a small class?
  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Aug 15, 2010
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    May 21, 2011

    Oh, I'm so jealous! That sounds like a perfect setting. I would really work on finding what the students need and making sure that is what I teach.
  4. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

    Jul 5, 2010
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    May 21, 2011

    Ohh, that sounds wonderful! My first thought is that I would want to create different areas in the classroom to serve different purposes. With so few children, it seems like you'll have plenty of space. In one grade when I was a student, we had a "reading loft" with a ladder to climb up into it and bookshelves underneath. (In retrospect, if it wasn't a bunkbed with rails then it was something very similar.)

    Maybe you have already been able to do this, but with my class of 30, I've felt like the room is always packed full!
  5. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

    Jun 18, 2007
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    May 22, 2011

    I have 11 now and 12 last year and next!
    It's easy on me...less paper work, conferences, calls, cutting out, everything!
    We have time for the whole curriculum plus time to reveiw when need be.
    I teach using Daily 5 and meet with my students one on one 3-5 days per week. We have an awesome relationship.
    I am personally and professionally happier than I've ever been.

    One large con is not having many ways to group or buddy up thekids. They are stuck with the 10-11 others. Last year I had just 3 girls which gave them just two choices of the same gender.

    Another con is the community does not want to provide paraprofessionals for us. They don't understand IEP's and the requirements.
  6. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

    Jul 10, 2009
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    Jun 8, 2011

    Wow! This is my situation from last year. I came in this year expecting 10 and had 9. By the end of the year, there were 8. 7 boys and 1 girl (our gym teacher lovingly called them, "Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs").

    For most of you day-to-day operation, you'll do the same work as you would for a class of 25. Here are a few things to consider:

    1.) They may be more like a family than classmates. My students knew each other's birthdays by heart, went on family vacations together, and tattled, tattled, tattled. They got their feelings hurt more than other classes because their bonds were so much stronger. If you get mad at one group of friends in a class of 9, there are only so many other people to befriend. We worked a lot of social behavior, problem-solving, etc.

    2.) When you group students or have pull-outs, you may not be able to group them as easily as you could a larger class. I had 2 students qualify for SE this year, and 5 qualify for gifted and talented. That leaves 2 in the middle. My groups had to be very flexible and based on individual skills.

    3.) Parents in classes like this are often very close. In my case, they were a powerful group. It ended up working out very well but I was mindful that this was not a group you wanted to have even one person on your "bad side."

    4.) Other teachers, parents, staff, etc. are going to make comments about how lucky you are. Don't let that bother you. You know the truth and it's not how they intend it. I tried to respond that, "Yes, I'm very lucky, they are an extremely special group of kids. I'll really miss them next year but I'm excited about our 2nd graders!"

    5.) My students didn't know how to share very well. Because they were a small group, they were typically given their own science project to complete and had a lot of perks because, "Buying for 9 is more affordable than buying for 25." I will admit, I sometimes did more for my students than I would for a larger class. At Christmas, they each received a $1 book from Scholastic Book Clubs. Next year, that could be more difficult with 22 students. I was more willing to provide popscicle parties, snacks, etc. out of my own pocket because they would last for days. I also tried to put them in situations where they had to share resources and where activities might not always seem, "fair." Sometimes they chose partners and other times, I forced them to work with someone they might not be friends with.

    There are many, many, benefits to a class this size:
    1.) You will know much more about each student but academically and personally. I actually miss this class (our last day was Monday) because I knew so much about their senses of humor, families, interests, etc.
    2.) You'll know how to give each student what they need much more quickly than with a larger class. Formative assessments were easier to complete and I could tell you in the first two weeks rough info on learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, reading levels, etc.
    3.) Parents will be more visible. When you only have to remember parent faces and names for 9 students you'll get to know them more quickly.
    4.) Grading. It's a blessing on a Tuesday night only to have to grade 9 of the first cursive spelling test of the year (ewww).

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