How many is too many?

I read a lot about class sizes and it seems to be in two camps. The first camp is class sizes do no matter, it is the teacher that makes the difference. This side seems to be the government side, both at state and federal level. This is a sample of what their position is Better Teachers, Not Tinier Classes, Should Be Goal and Class Size in New York City Schools Rises, but the Impact Is Debated. There is some merit to better teachers, but not every teacher can manage huge classes and while larger classes for older students are manageable, I do not believe this is the case for younger grades.

The other position,taken by mainly teachers, is that class sizes do matter. The Seattle Times asked about The Skinny on Class Size and got a few responses. As is stated in the paper, this question came about due to a comment on a blog concerning a teacher strike. It is unfortunate that class size only seems to come out during a teacher strike. Here's what some teachers are saying about class sizes ASCD Blog, "Cuts to Teaching Staffs Mean Larger Class Sizes".

Looking at things logically and based on requirements put on teachers by the federal and state governments, class room sizes should be limited. One of the things I am constantly being told is to do small group instruction and spend some time with every student every day. Looking at the last item first, if I have 30 students in my class and spend ONLY 1 minute with each student I just blocked out 30 minutes for students who need additional help. One minute should be 5, so that makes the time I spend with each student two and a half hours. There went at least one period of instruction, if its reading, two if it is something else. Small groups are to be that, small. With 30 students I should have no more than 5 students per group, trust me 6 is to many in many cases. If I spend 10 minutes per group, there is one hour of my reading time. Oh, and 10 minutes is not enough time so lets go with 15 minutes. This takes my time up to an hour and a half. New teachers find this hard to manage, not to mention that we must make sure each and every group has something to do which is different. Actually small groups is pretty easy once we learn how, but lets look at math. I get one hour for math which means I get 2 minutes per student IF I don't teach. Most students do not get new concepts, or even older ones, and require more than the 2 minutes. I tried student tutors and that didn't always work. Now, the two scenarios I just gave do work IN A PERFECT CLASS. This means I have each of my students come to school after a full night of sleep and have had breakfast. It also means that there are no cases of ADD, ADHD, or any other psychological problems which plague our youth.

Not looking at things logically, ask college students if they think they are getting the full benefit of their Professors instruction when they have 45 to 60 students in a class. If they do, then why do we see commercials espousing a given college's "small class size"?

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