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mrteacherguy mrteacherguy is offline
 
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Increase in class size
Old 07-09-2017, 04:05 AM
 
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For the upcoming school year, my school is cutting positions at all but a few grade levels, because as far as administration and/or district is concerned, our student enrollment numbers are not high enough to justify having four teachers per grade level.

At last count, the incoming 6th grade group had 99 students, which means that if the classes were divided evenly, each of us would get 33 students. However, since we're departmentalized and have to have an ELL class, it seems more likely that two of the classes would be larger and one class smaller in order to have that ELL class; which means that our numbers for the other two classes are approaching 40 or more students each.

Has anyone else had to deal with large class sizes like this before on a regular basis? If so, what advice or suggestions do you have concerning:
- Limited supplies or materials, such as those sent in district science kits (the district usually only sends enough for class sizes of about 30 at most)
- Days when a teacher has a to be gone and there isn't a sub (we have a hard time getting substitute teachers) and the students have to be split
- Classroom arrangement to fit 40 kids


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platypus platypus is offline
 
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Old 07-09-2017, 05:58 AM
 
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It really depends on the class. I had a class of 34 kids a couple of years ago who were great and after the first month, it ran really smoothly. What really, really sucks about class sizes that big is there is no way to help everyone and I feel the "smart" kids fall through the cracks because the lower-level kids need so much help. But in that class the higher-level kids really relied on each other and would come to me when they couldn't get a consensus.

This class also really responded to rewards: free days, popcorn, being able to play my iTunes, etc. They were super obsessed with "Party in the USA". I heard it approximately 70 billion times that year. They also loved youtube videos: Kid President, How Animals Eat Their Food, etc. They act right and they got the last ten minutes (most days ) for music and youtube videos.

However, last year I had a class that fluctuated between 35-38 and it was not a great year. We did not have a lot of fun but we got what we had to do finished. They didn't respond to rewards at all.

You absolutely can not give an inch on the rules and expectations. And it's exhausting to be super strict all the time but if it's a class like that, it's a must.

I teach English but the science teacher was in the same boat and she had to split lab days up at the beginning of the year and she would have some independent activity for the kids to work on while the others did labs. But then some kids lost their lab privileges and that was a thing.

I sponsor three activities so I am gone with kids a handful of times throughout the year. We can't afford subs so either it's volunteers (who are hard to come by) or teachers on their plan have to watch your class. For that huge class, I would leave humongous vocab or grammar packets. And I graded the entire thing the first time I was gone.

I spent the entire year trying to figure out desk arrangement. My room isn't big. At one time, I had them all separate in rows. It was difficult to move around and the other classes hated it because they liked to be in groups. The best arrangement (but I still didn't love it) was two big groups of 10, 2 small groups of 4, four desks separated into rows of two and I had 3 desks that were as isolated as I could make them.

I don't make seating charts for my classes. I tell them that I will move them if they get disruptive. This class had a seating chart all year.

I will say this, on a personal note, I was quiet and did my work when I was a kid, so I was always stuck next to the kid who was disruptive and I hated it all through school. HATED IT. So, I try not to do that to kids. And that's a hard thing to do when you are trying to figure out where to stick kids.

Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:16 AM
 
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I had 35 a class for several years. Materials was a huge issue. The other issue was just not enough room. The big push was for centers and groups, but we physically had such little spare room we were always still one large group no matter what.

The algebra groups are sometimes at 40.
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Tough
Old 07-09-2017, 08:17 AM
 
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I've never had above 32 and that was pushing it. Our rooms will physically not accommodate 40 students! Even at 32, I didn't have enough desks, but we always had absent kids so they would have to rotate.

Unlike a previous poster, I have to have a seating chart for each class. We do get subs (and I was one for a long time) so this is a must for me. However, after the start of the year, I would let kids pick partners or work alone for certain assignments. This is a big reward. However, if they are not working or disruptive, I change the group or make them sit by me.

Also, in my larger classes, a reward we had was to "work on the floor or in the hallway." Since all of the classrooms are small, we are permitted to let kids work there. This keeps kids on-task because if they are too loud, they get called back in.

I did find that direct instruction was a challenge with so many kids. I was very strict with talking out and interruptions. I also would say, "Give me five minutes to explain this. If anyone talks, I will talk longer!" It was kind of a joke, but it worked. Call them back to go over things was a challenge, so I started to give each group a self-check answer key. THEN, I would collect their papers without telling to them to see who didn't do anything. Those kids would get a zero and learn that they had better be working.

At times in the bigger classes, the noise level does get out of control. I tell my classes that if it is too loud, we go back to our desks and work silently. I also didn't do many game type reviews with big classes because they would get out of control quickly. At times I would tell them that if we finished early, we could watch a video or listen to music the last few minutes. This gave them some motivation.

Oh, I also had an extremely small class in the morning. It was night and day. I wish they could balance out our classes, but apparently they can't. Best of luck with 40!!!
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