What to do with a tiny class?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by a teacher, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. a teacher

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    I will be having a class next semester that will only consist of about 10 students. My planned curriculum (it is an art class) will work fine, but I find such a small group awkward, and I am annoyed at the circumstances. I never thought having too small a class would ever be a problem!

    Have any of you experienced this and how did you handle it? Should I be more experimental with my curriculum, doing things that would be more difficult with a big group? I equate it to an SDC class, where I have walked into rooms with just a few kids sitting around in a very informal environment. Though in this case, I would have a range of ability levels, mostly okay academically and most 11th and 12th graders.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think a small class sounds ideal!
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I had a class of 14 first graders one year and it was a dream! I taught SO MUCH and was able to differentiate and work with small groups really easily. We became a little family very quickly and it was an awesome year.

    I also enjoyed writing only 14 report cards! Compared to my colleagues who had 28 in their class, I was doing half the work. (Certainly didn't broadcast that, but I did secretly enjoy my lighter load!)
     
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  5. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    A couple years ago my pre-k class started off with only 9 kids and I had 15 by the end of the year, IT WAS A DREAM. To this day that was my favorite class. Although it probably helped that the kids themselves were so great!
     
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  6. a teacher

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    But what about high school?
     
  7. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    I'm still in the practicums phase, but I do English and have only worked with high school students so far. I definitely found small groups easier in this age group. I like how everyone feels closer in a smaller class too.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I think, with an art class, it will be great to have more time to help each student.
     
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  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Heaven sent!!!! Imagine the depth and breadth you can cover with that size class.
     
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  10. sunnyy

    sunnyy Guest

    Dec 11, 2016

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  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    According to studies cited in one of Malcolm Gladwell's books, most teachers tend to teach small classes the same way they teach larger classes. My experiences, though also elementary, have shown that small class sizes can maximize instruction. Mel Levine has observed how students who negatively differentiate from the norm often become lost in a classroom and I've observed how this problem is less likely in a smaller group; often these students are considered "underachievers", but in reality, many researchers (such as Geoffry Caine, if my memory serves me correctly) view them as different achievers. I realize the story of Albert Einstein is over told, but I believe it does ring true. I believe many if not most "underachievers" are really "overachievers" in disguise. OK, they aren't like plaster being poured into a mold, but where would the world be without creators and inventors who broke the mold, such as musician Aaron Copeland, artist William Singer, inventors Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and many others. I believe a small classroom is an ideal setting for these students to maximize their different abilities productively.
     
  12. a teacher

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    Thanks for the replies. The main advantage I see too, is that I can individualize. I just have this feeling like the class is being abandoned and that that may leave a negative feeling in the kids left behind to take the second part of the class. This is not true of course, as those being scheduled out are being given a "home period", as they are seniors and have met minimum requirements (don't even get me started on the stupidity of this rule, as most will not be college and career ready and certainly can't afford to NOT take an extra class).

    I just don't want the class to feel awkward for any of us.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I had a 16 student class one year and it was a dream. I built such great relationships with all of the students, and these weren't even cream of the crop students. These were students who were stuck in my class after not getting their first choice electives. Having fewer students helped me to focus in on each of the places where they struggled and get to know them well. I got to try new teaching techniques and activities with them and they were all on board with the experimentation that took place that year.

    For an art class, a group of 10 students could come together and do something really cool all together as a class, such as design a mural for the school or put together some large art project. Ask other teachers or the library if they would be open to your kids decorating the walls, etc. With a smaller class, you run less of a risk of a student feeling like they could get away with doing something inappropriate, but also feel like they can be part of a productive team. Good luck!
     
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  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Because I'm in alternative Ed, my classes were almost small. For us a class of 15 was a regular class ( same as a class of 35 or 45 students in a mainstream high school) but I often had small classes such as 8-9 students.
    I hated those. It took me a long time to figure out why I had more behavior issues in those classes, because it should've been actually less, right? Well, I've found that students n very small classes somehow think the work should be less as well because the class is small, so it's not that serious. They feel that casual feel, that they can goof off, the class doesn't matter that much, etc.
    it was so much more work. Add the fact there can be 2-3 students absent and now you have 5-6 kids. I hated it.

    I've always done better with bigger classes, so now I ask to add kids to small classes, not the big ones. I want them to be filled up. Now my classes are 20-22, I only have one class with 17, so these are considered huge. And I love it.

    I can't really give you any advice, I would do the same things with them as with my other classes, especially since you might have 5 new students in the next few months, and then your small group set up won't work anyways. If this class is a very different content from the other ones, then yes, experiment :)
     
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  15. a teacher

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    Thanks for the great idea. I like the approach of looking for a special project to work on. Who would I ask?
     
  16. a teacher

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    Those are good points. I never dreamed I'd have classes that were too SMALL (I have regularly struggled with trying to get kids out of classes that were overstuffed)! Your point about kids not taking the class as seriously is good. Nobody else has experienced this?
     
  17. linswin23

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    I work at a really small school! I teach high school English. I my biggest class is 9 students and I have 3 students in my smallest class! SUPER SUPER small. It's definitely been a big adjustment for me. I was used to having an average of 25 students per class. One year I had 35 7th graders in one section of language arts.

    Honestly, go crazy. I have been doing lots of experimental things this year. Some of them have worked great and some of them have failed miserably due to the small numbers. You have the ability to do things that would be hard to do with a larger group, so try them out.

    The roles of each student (and the overall dynamic) tends to get stale and locked in, so I have been trying to incorporate a variety of diverse activities for the students that ask them to step outside of their comfort zones.

    I have been doing a lot of class projects. The nice thing is since there are so little of them I feel as if they all have more accountability to get things done and do their work during collaborative projects.
     
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  18. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2016

    What to do? Really??? Come on.

    Say a prayer thanking God and then go teach your heart out.
     
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  19. a teacher

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    I guess you have never had a tiny class. You would know the awkwardness that I speak of.
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I don't see how a tiny class is awkward. You have a wonderful opportunity to build strong relationships with your students and tackle interesting art projects. It is also nice needing less time for grading!
     
  21. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

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    In my first teaching job I had a class of 4 and a class of 6. I taught math in an emotional support setting. I understand the awkwardness. The benefits were that I got to know those students very well, and learned how to meet their unique needs, but there were days and students who showed some behaviors because of the super small class size. It was also my first job teaching so I learned a lot in that year.
     
  22. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I can see how it's awkward in the sense that we're used to one thing (larger classes), and thus a tiny class means a significant shift/adjustment to our approach. Much like if we're used to 80 degree weather, that 50 degree weather will seem out of the ordinary, even though to others it might not be.

    That being said, I agree with many others: embrace it, use it as an opportunity to make stronger connections, to better differentiate (which will be more possible with fewer students), and to provide additional / more immediate feedback when possible. I've had some days where I've had 1/4 to 1/3 of my class out, and those days can feel a bit different, but I love the ability to spend more time with each student and better meet each of their needs.
     
  23. a teacher

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    I still need a good idea. The trick is that I don't want to create extra work for myself. Yes, my curriculum would work just fine with a class of 10. We could do special projects for other classes (Leadership or Yearbook), and yes it will be awkward if I try to run it like a regular class.

    It just seems like an opportunity to try something different, but what?
     
  24. a teacher

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    Anyone?
     
  25. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I would think about organizing the class as an Independent Study opportunity, having the students pursue and create projects of interest and creating a portfolio of their learning. Teaching of required concepts could happen using a workshop model.
     
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  26. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I am not an art teacher, or even a high school teacher, but I would ask myself, "What is something I've always wanted to try?" and then go for it.

    The year of my smallest class, I tried individualized math stations. It didn't work the same for any other group, but I was able to build on the concept with future, larger, groups and it changed the way I taught math.
     
  27. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I think it will only be as awkward as you are. I've had smaller classes. I didn't find it awkward. But I suppose if you're not as good at relating to your students, a smaller class might be more awkward.
     
  28. a teacher

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    You can't relate enough to make a small quiet class a comfortable one. Unless you're an entertainer.
     
  29. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Why can't you relate to a smaller class?
     
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  30. a teacher

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    The thing is this: they are VERY quiet. They don't talk to each other despite the fact that several of them know each other and they've been together (in the larger group they came out of) since last semester. I was considering the whole team-building idea but then wasn't sure what value that would have when the kids are not working collaboratively anyway. They are doing studio art work which is independent. I thought of doing ice-breakers, but again what's the point? That would be momentary and then they would go back to their silence.

    Should I care? Or carry on?
     
  31. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I think you need to do some group projects are needed to get them interacting with each other!!
     
  32. a teacher

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    But that would fundamentally change the nature of my curriculum, which I am not willing to do. I am not going to design a new curriculum for a one-time especially small class period.
     
  33. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Well then, I don't know what to tell you if you aren't willing to be flexible and make the most of a small class situation that most teachers would LOVE to have!

    Enjoy it while you can. You could be crammed with 50+ kids. But anyway!

    Have a good one!
     
  34. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I have 2 classes of 4 students each this year and I love it. I have gotten to know the students so well and I am almost finished my curriculum in physics which means more Inquiry Labs. I do not find these classes awkward at all.
     
  35. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Why would you have to design a new curriculum. I have added additional labs and projects because I do get through the material faster but I have not re-designed the curriculum.
     
  36. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    If they're working independently because of the nature of the curriculum, and are very quiet and it's a small class, count your lucky stars and keep it like that. It's either that, or you make it more collaborative, but you don't want to do that, so leave it like it is.

    My 4th period class (same size as others) are so quiet. I can't get a discussion out of them. Yesterday I had some of my classes working independently (read and answer questions) and told them they could work together if they wanted to. They sat on their own, in complete silence the whole time. I could hear a pin drop. This class has kids that never ever talk. To anyone. There is one kid who's a talker, but he has no one to talk to.
    I love it. Collaborative work would be a challenge, but I can make it work. I'm not fighting what I have there.
     
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  37. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Why did you ask this question if you weren't going to accept the answer? If you have already decided that you won't be experimental, then why are you even here? There are blogs where you can go if you just want to see yourself type. Forums are for discussions.
     
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  38. a teacher

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    Why was I just banned for a week? What happened? Completely ridiculous!!!
     
  39. MathGuy82

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    I love small classes too! They are so easy to help each person. Kids are less likely to be unmotivated or goof off since the class is so small.
     
  40. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I was a 2 week sub one time for an algebra class that consisted of only 6 student (was advanced placement classes with the Gifted program) Anyway it was so nice and relaxing! I loved it. I was able to truly help each individual student if/when they needed it.
     

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