No matter what they say, size does matter. Class size that is. Having only taught in one area of the country, my class sizes have always stayed rather uniform. When I taught second grade, I would have as many as twenty-three, which seemed like a lot. In kindergarten I’ve had as much as twenty, which, when they’re all there, seems like a whole lot. Funny thing is, many teachers have more… much more.
Obviously, the number of children in your room directly affects how much attention a teacher is able to give to each one, but class size goes deeper. In a kindergarten room, where you need room to move, stretch, dance, and play, the more bodies, the less space you have… as I found out last year, they start of like tiny munchkins, but by June they’re a whole lot bigger and take up a lot more room. Last year, with every straw we added to tally the number of days in school, our circle kept getting more ‘cozy’.
I’m not sure if there is data to back this up (I tried to find out, but gave up after awhile…), but it appears the closer you teach to a major city, the more kids you have. Obviously with a more dense population, you’re going to have more people to serve, but I have to imagine in bigger cities those kids have bigger challenges and could really benefit from smaller class sizes. When I read a reader in Baltimore had thirty-three students, another in Malibu had forty-two, and another poor teacher has so many sprouts two of them have to sit on the floor because she ran out of table space, my heart sank a little for each of them. I know they give it their all and do the best they possibly can, but forty-two kids with one teacher is just simply to many.
With budgets being slashed left and right I keep reading that class sizes are only going to be bigger… I can’t help but think that the politicians, and maybe even voters, who suggest and agree to this have no clue how it impacts the learning and success of children. What can we do? Unfortunately not a whole lot… parents have the power. I try to empower the parents in my classroom community to speak up and advocate for their children.
Here’s hoping our class sizes get smaller so every sprout can get the time and attention they deserve. What are your thoughts on class size?