Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Class Size Really Matters

I know, tell you something you don't already know, right? This post is just one more testament/rant.

I teach AM and PM kindergarten classes. I have just 5 less students in the PM class. There is not a big difference in the behaviours or special cases to deal with, and I have one full time assistant in each class. The difference in productivity and quality of learning is noticeable on a daily basis.

Being in Kindergarten, most of my assessment data is based on anecdotal notes, pictures, and one-to-one interactions. Clearly, a smaller class size lends itself to way more data collection per student. It's all accumulative too; what takes 2 days in my PM class can take 3-5 days in the AM. 

Social Interactions
Because the PM group started out so small, they have been able to develop very strong relationships with one another. They rarely, if ever, have disagreements and are extremely independent problem solvers for their developmental age. Because it's been so easy to foster the development of positive social skills and interactions, we've had more time to focus on the learning.

I know it sounds too businessy for a K classroom, but our productivity in the afternoon is significantly better than the morning. I can only attribute it to the size. Students receive a lot more immediate, personalized feedback and one-to-one instruction.

My Challenge
I often feel like my afternoon class is being held back by the morning class's slow pace, particularly when it comes to small projects such as crafts and art. However, I find it really difficult to run the classes on completely different schedules (which is what would end up happening in a matter of weeks). I do use our extra time in the afternoon for learning but when it comes to inquiry projects I face difficulty. I know both classes will likely look different and take things up differently and I am still not sure how to do this and keep my sanity!

Conclusion: Less is More
If all classes, particularly in early childhood, could stay 15 students or less, we would see a huge difference in student learning. I know it's just an opinion and not backed-up by any fancy data (just my own), but it creates such a strong argument for private schooling (which, by the way, I am not a proponent for!).