Thursday, December 20, 2007

Class Size

No matter what the Mayor says, small classes are the answer.

Last year 12 special education students were put in an inclusion class with 20 regular education students and a push in teacher. The kids were lost. The push in teacher worked non stop, giving up all her lunches and preps and got most of them to pass Math A and move on to Math B.

This year the push in teacher said she would be a push in no longer. She had the school create a Math B class exclusively for her special education students plus a few resource room kids. She goes as slow as she needs and gives her students exactly what they need now that she is in charge and not dealing with the Ms. Wannabe Suit that was the main teacher in the room last year. The kids, while all not passing, are doing much better.
A resource room kid was in my Math B class, a class with a register of 34. Although Boy was motivated, and working hard, he just could not get the hang of a proof. Push in and I worked together and got Boy transferred to her class. Boy just came to visit me to show me his latest test where he scored a 93. Boy is succeeding and feels good about himself.

So, the real question now is why is Boy doing so much better? Is Push in a better teacher than I am? She might be but she does not have my experience in either teaching or in math. Does she care more? I think we both care about the same (which is lots). Or, is it because her class has 15 kids in it as opposed to mine of 34? My guess is that class size is the answer.

Pissed off Mom goes on and on about class size and about how she had to pull her son out of a public school so he could get an education in small classes and how he could succeed now that class size was limited. Bloomberg and Klein say that a good teacher is more important than class size. Too bad he never met Boy or Pissed Off Mom's son.


mathmom said...

Is the answer really class size, or homogeneous grouping? You said "She goes as slow as she needs". That wouldn't be appropriate in your 34-student class presumably because most of your students are moving at a different pace, not just because there happen to be 34 of them in there. Admittedly, when there are 34 kids in a class, it's harder to remain aware of everyone's needs, and it's less likely that the group will really be homogeneous. But, it seems to me that homogeneous grouping is even more critical to meeting individual students' needs than smaller class sizes.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Both are important. With a small group you can see where everyone is having trouble and address individual nees.

Even in my AP class, where all the kids are bright, and the class is homogenous, I have been able to do more with a group of 20 as opposed to a group of 34.

When you teach 34 kids with special needs, you have 34 kids that need individual help. This is impossible to do.

mathmom said...

I agree that 34 kids with special needs is unlikely to be a homogeneous group, since each will have individual special needs.

I do think small class size is a good thing. But I still think that homogeneous grouping gains you at least nearly as much, without really costing anything. So it's hard to see why that potential solution is routinely shoved aside (especially at the K-8 level -- in high school there is at least some grouping by level, as you point out with AP classes etc.).