Large classes are a reality in many countries and they bring many challenges to teachers. In this article, I discuss two important solutions to these challenges but let’s start with setting the challenges first.
The main challenges of teaching a large class?
- It’s difficult to keep good discipline or manage the class.
- You have mixed-abilities children.
- You can’t easily give each child the care and attention they need.
- You may not have enough teaching aids and learning materials.
How can we overcome these challenges?
Let’s discuss the following two solutions:
1. Set clear basic rules from the first beginning of the school year.
These rules should establish a code of behavior that learners understand, such as:
- Each group should work quietly.
- They may talk, but not loudly.
- Children who have finished the lesson tasks can read the lesson silently.
- If you want to talk with the teacher, put your hand up on the desk.
- Reduce your voice when you see this sign (specify one).
Discuss with your class this code of conduct. The children can also sum up the rules in simple sentences and write them on a poster. Put this poster in a visible place. Beside to these rules, you can appoint responsible leaders who can help you maintain discipline and remind their friends with the rules and encourage them all the time to commit to them.
2. Use group work:
In a large class, group work can help children to learn from each other without getting bored listening to teacher talk. Even if they made some noise, it will be a healthy noise which means that learning occurs.
How to organize the groups:
A teacher can try different strategies to do so such as:
1. Mixed-ability groups: The more able learners in the group can help the others to master the work so that the teacher needs not teach some parts.
2. Same-ability groups: The teacher can group the faster learners together to do the work on their own and they can be given extra activities if they finished the work. On the other side, the teacher can give extra help to individual learners in the slower groups.
3. Using a group of leaders/monitors: the teacher can make a group of faster, more able learners and appoint them as leaders or monitors asking them to help slower learners. They can also give out and take in work for the groups and explain what each group should do exactly.
In all strategies the teacher needs to move around the classroom to see what progress learners are making and what problems they are facing. The teacher should give advice, encouragement and extra individual help where it is needed.
One more important advantage of group work is helping the teacher to manage with few teaching aids or not enough learning materials. Instead of making a teaching aid for each child to work with, the teacher can design only five or six of it and let each group have it to work with or the teacher can make different five teaching aids and the groups can exchange them, so by the end of the lesson all the groups will have done some work with each teaching aid.
With or without group work, in large classes the teacher should make the best use of the board by writing the important things on it in large size before the lesson.
The advantages of a large class:
Although most teachers consider a large class is a disadvantage, but there are some advantages of teaching a large class. You should make use of them.
- Many children in the large class can share many different ideas and interesting life experiences. This motivates the children to discuss and learn from each other.
- The large class divided into groups enables you to apply project-based learning approach.
During project work, children can learn to share responsibility and help each other. This also brings variety and speeds up the work. When you plan a group project, let students know that each group member will have their own special task that is connected to the others. Children should also know well that there is a deadline for the project. That means they will agree to do their own task and finish it by a certain date.