4.22.2011

Size.

No matter what they say, size does matter. Class size that is. Having only taught in one area of the country, my class sizes have always stayed rather uniform. When I taught second grade, I would have as many as twenty-three, which seemed like a lot. In kindergarten I’ve had as much as twenty, which, when they’re all there, seems like a whole lot. Funny thing is, many teachers have more… much more.


Obviously, the number of children in your room directly affects how much attention a teacher is able to give to each one, but class size goes deeper. In a kindergarten room, where you need room to move, stretch, dance, and play, the more bodies, the less space you have… as I found out last year, they start of like tiny munchkins, but by June they’re a whole lot bigger and take up a lot more room. Last year, with every straw we added to tally the number of days in school, our circle kept getting more ‘cozy’.

I’m not sure if there is data to back this up (I tried to find out, but gave up after awhile…), but it appears the closer you teach to a major city, the more kids you have. Obviously with a more dense population, you’re going to have more people to serve, but I have to imagine in bigger cities those kids have bigger challenges and could really benefit from smaller class sizes. When I read a reader in Baltimore had thirty-three students, another in Malibu had forty-two, and another poor teacher has so many sprouts two of them have to sit on the floor because she ran out of table space, my heart sank a little for each of them. I know they give it their all and do the best they possibly can, but forty-two kids with one teacher is just simply to many.

With budgets being slashed left and right I keep reading that class sizes are only going to be bigger… I can’t help but think that the politicians, and maybe even voters, who suggest and agree to this have no clue how it impacts the learning and success of children. What can we do? Unfortunately not a whole lot… parents have the power. I try to empower the parents in my classroom community to speak up and advocate for their children.

Here’s hoping our class sizes get smaller so every sprout can get the time and attention they deserve.  What are your thoughts on class size?

9 comments:

ChiTown Girl said...

Boyfriend, you just touched on one of my hot topics!! I'm going to try and keep the rant to a minimum (I can do that on my own blog!) but I will share that last year I had 38 kindergartners. This year, I have 30 1st graders, which feels just as crowded since they're bigger. Overcrowding is a MAJOR problem here in Chicago. And, that's all I'm going to say, since I feel some swear words bubbling up to the surface... ;-)

123A2Z said...

When I started teaching K (30+) years ago it was a half day program. My first year I was half time. By November of that year, our numbers were 25 in each class and the school board decided that was too many! They talked to parents from each of the 3 sections and by Christmas we had formed a 4th section and I was teaching full time. In my rural area school class size used to stay between 17 to 21 per classroom. (22 was a BIG class)
We went to full day Kindergarten to accommodate working parents, not because it was best for the students. In the past years, our numbers have been rising, but budgets have not, so classes of 25+ in K, 1 & 2 are common. Unfortunately, the students are the ones that suffer from this. Our district hired associates for each K and 1st room this year, helping us to get to more students, but the space issue becomes more of a problem. The research shows that smaller class size in primary years can lessen the problems students have in middle and upper Elementary years. I wish we could get our school board and administrators to understand that.

Mr. A. said...

@ChiTown Girl - that makes me sad... I lived in Chicago for almost ten years after college and I adore the city - that's a sad fact... I've been reading a lot about the Charter school movement in Chicago - is it any better there?

Ms.S said...

Out here in the Midwest, it can very from district to district. My first year, I taught in the largest district in the state and had up 26 in my class (a very transient population, my class size varied every month).I switched districts and now average 21 tots a year. However, with the district selling schools this year (including mine) class sizes are bound to go up, to the disappointment/outrage of most parents.

Anonymous said...

In Perth australia we have set numbers in our classes kindy (4 yrs old) it is 20, preprimary (5 yrs old) it is 25-27 depending on your classroom and in yr 1-3 it is 24. Our union is currently looking at a log of claims for the department and is trying to change class sizes in pre primary to 20! This is something that is needed! I am so glad that we have these maximum class sizes

Aimee said...

Living in a large city in NY, this is becoming a bigger issue every day. At our faculty meeting last week, we were told that K-2nd grade will have 27-30 students per class and 3rd-6th will have 28-32. The teachers will be lucky to have an aide or consultant teacher with them. I'm not sure how it's going to pan out. Like you say, inner city students have a lot of needs (academic, behavioral, and emotional) that cannot be adequately met in a class that size.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine! I teach in a Headstart program in rural VT and with 2 teachers per classroom we are capped at 16 children (ages 3-5). Granted a majority of our children also have severe behaviors or mental health concerns... but as it is I feel like we spend so much time putting out fires that we hardly get to do ANY actual teaching other than social/ self regulation. My heart goes put to all of you who are trying to juggle a classroom of 20+ kids and still be able to give them the k.owledge they need to grow into successful adults. You are amazing and wonderful educators and I am in awe. :)

Dee said...

I think the biggest problem is that lawmakers make decisions on how the budget money is spent...Not on what works in the classroom.

~A said...

I'm totally with you here. The space and room to move issue is definitely a big problem in kindergarten, but I think it goes further than that. I did one of my practicum in a classroom with 32 fifth graders. At that age, the kids are getting used to rapidly growing bodies and have some trouble figuring out what to do with those long limbs... I had students bumping into each other all the time.