Effective Teaching in Crowded Classrooms: Strategies for Success
In my time as an elementary school teaching assistant, I have worked on a daily basis with children from 6 to 10 years old. Though I typically interact with no more than 6-8 children at one time, I can engage with upwards of two hundred children in a day as my duties are split between classrooms. As such, I understand how important it is to pay attention to each and every student, regardless of classroom size. There are a few strategies that can make managing a large classroom easier for everyone involved, as well as ensure that each student is getting individual attention and feedback.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.
Building Personal Connections
The first responsibility of a teacher with a large classroom — and this is no small task — is to get to know each student on a personal basis at the beginning of the school year. I have spoken with English teachers who regularly teach classes of 60-70 kids at once, so I know how challenging this step can be, especially with limited class time. First, it is very important that a teacher learns each student’s name and uses it regularly. Going further, make an effort to determine common interests shared by the students and incorporate these into lessons. However, be careful not to rely too heavily on one topic.
Leveraging Group and Pair Work
Group and pair work is another tool a teacher should employ as much as is realistic in a large classroom. Because it is very difficult for a teacher to hear from each student individually with a large class size, group and pair work can help to bridge this gap. For example, a classroom of 50 students can be split up into 10 groups of five. While the groups work, the teacher can visit each group individually to monitor their progress and check individual students’ learning. Pair work, as well, can provide a teacher with feedback on multiple students at once.
Ensuring Individual Feedback
Finally, it is important in large classrooms to make sure that each student receives individual feedback from the teacher. This is perhaps the most difficult task of all, as the teacher is greatly outnumbered! It is easy for quieter or less motivated students to be left behind in classrooms of this size, as the teacher simply does not have the time and attention span to tend to every student at every moment. For this reason, frequent progress checks are very important in a large classroom.
Overcoming the Challenges
Though a large classroom size presents a significant challenge to the English teacher — particularly the new teacher — strategies such as these can help make the task less overwhelming. Learning personal interests, group work, and frequent progress checks are only some of the ways a teacher can make large classroom management easier. With practice, even the largest of English learning classrooms can be a comfortable place for students to read, write, listen, and speak with each other and their teacher.
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