Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Improving Learning by Keeping Class Size in Check

TeachThought 30 Day Blog Challenge September 17- What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

I'm not sure I could pinpoint the MOST challenging issue, but I would have to say class size is on the top of the list.   I have been so fortunate to go to school,  send my children to school, and teach in schools that Vermont where class sizes have been fairly small compared to other parts of the country.
My years at Charleston School, Concord School and Cabot school provided allowed me to see the power of education children in some of the most ideal class sizes you could imagine. It is one of the reasons I wanted to raise my children in Vermont.  But even now I hear more about more and more Vermont schools whose class sizes are creeping upwards and it makes me very sad.

I hate to see technology solutions implemented because they allow us to scale a solution or pack more kids into a class because of budget cuts.

We don't need more technology!  We need teacher teacher/student ratio that promote the best learning environments.   In a 40 minute class of 20,  each student could be allocated 2 minutes of 1:1 student/teacher interaction.  Student deserve more than two minutes of their teachers time!  And yet a class size of 20 is considered small by today's standard.

I still remember a conversation I had with a teacher I met while standing in the line to get into the Washington Monument.  I couldn't believe that this  teacher had 35 first graders in her class, and felt so fortunate to live in a place where that would never happen.  Well just recently I have been watching primary grades numbers creep upwards to where 25 is considered acceptable.  

Think about it folks.  Consider the last time you had a birthday party for your child.  Perhaps there were 15 other kids there; and perhaps they stayed 2 hours. Now imagine doubling the number of kids and having them stay twice as long,  Now imagine a primary school teacher doing this every day and adding the pressure to not only keep them from harms way and keep them entertained, but also giving them the responsibility to make sure they are learning EVERYTHING they need to learn to be prepared for 'next year'... for 'college'.... for 'a career'.

I don't think it would take long to make the right decision about class size if we could provide every adult that votes on a school budget the ability to reflect on that birthday party  or better yet to experience 25 kids in a classroom for a day.

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