Does Class Size Matter? - A Teacher's Point of View

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Updated | 4 min read


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  • Amanda Worthington

    I too, know and love what most of Hattie's research offers and others like Anita Archer, BUT when it comes to class size - it is a no brainer really!! SMALLER class sizes actually DO make an ENORMOUS difference! I was very fortunate to have a class of twenty year one students in 2015. Previously, classes of 27, 28 and 29 students, including verified students was normal for me. My class in 2015 made the most astounding progress educationally, socially and emotionally that I have ever witnessed! Thirty years of teaching in different settings and for me this was the most enjoyable and rewarding teaching experience that I have had! At the beginning of the year, 12 of the 20 students were below reading benchmarks and developing early number concepts. The other 8 were sound. By the end of that year, 10 students were reading and comprehending at RRL 24 and above (Very High), a further 4 students at RRL 19 (High), 4 at RRL 16 (Sound) and 2 students were developing at RRL 12, but had progressed from <1 at the beginning of the year! At the end of the year 15 of the 20 students performed in the 90 percentile and above range on the PAT maths test. I had equally impressive results in ALL areas of the curriculum!!! Why did I achieve such particularly impressive results that year, when I TRY to do the same types of activities, use similar strategies etc.. in other years? Because with fewer students I could work with them individually, in pairs and in small groups daily! I had time to really get to know each of my students and to address their individual needs. I had less noise with 7 or 8 fewer students using quiet voices! More space in the old, box type classroom that I still teach in. I was able to build rapport with each student! Parents were equally impressed and wrote to the principal asking for smaller class sizes in future years because they had personally witnessed the result of what is achievable with fewer students! Unfortunately they fell on deaf ears! WE need to stand strong together and advocate smaller class sizes to our politicians! We need to show evidence and not just sound like "whinging" teachers! Get the support of parents! WE need to do it for our STUDENTS!

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Well said, Amanda!!! I was nodding along to all of your comment! Kind regards, Holly

  • Marg Murnane

    I have a really challenging year 8 group this term - 29 students (mainstream secondary). I have been digging deep in my bag of PBS strategies and years of experience so that I can manage the behaviours in this class. As well as the 8-9 clowns who demand all the attention, there are 21 other students who deserve and require my attention. At the end of the session, I am hard pressed to even recall if some of the quieter students were even at school that day - much less having been able to sit with them and see what they are up to. One of the students wrote in her writer's notebook, that she was surrounded by idiots and she wondered if anyone noticed she was there. Anyway, on Friday, 10 students in that particular group were away - sports, illness and appointments. This NEVER happens - and it was like a revelation. Granted, 2 of the clowns were in that mix of 10 absentees, but it brought my numbers down to 19! I was able to teach. I was able to get around to those quieter students who never put their hands up. I was able to sit with the students who were struggling and see some light bulb moments. I know the Hattie research and I love most of what he has to say, but 29 teenagers in a regular sized classroom does make a difference. I assured that young lady that I do notice her and I make a point of standing at the door and at least greeting all of the students as they arrive and leave. I want them to know that they are noticed and that somebody values their presence in the class. I also want them to feel safe amidst all the bad behaviours. I want to teach!

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Thank you so much for your comment Marg! It is evident that you are a passionate teacher! I love how you make the effort to ensure your students feel noticed! Kind regards, Holly

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