Now before I start this blog, let me categorically state that I am not an educational psychologist or specialist. I am simply sharing tips that I picked up from my close to 20 years in the classroom. I didn’t start out knowing how to deal with the issue of class size nor did I have much information about student learning challenges.
But I read, I researched and I learnt from the EXPERIENCE of actually being in a classroom. It’s not that Professional Development Days didn’t help me, but to be honest, there were some consultants and facilitators who were completely out of touch with the reality of teaching and the culture/ climate of a classroom.
I’ve always loved the following quote that compares the field of medicine, which is frequently regarded as perhaps the noblest and most difficult profession, with the science of teaching. And yes, as Marzano and his colleagues highlight, there is an art and science to teaching.
After some 30 years of [analyzing teaching], I have concluded that classroom teaching- particularly at the elementary and secondary levels- is perhaps the most complex, most challenging, most demanding, subtle, nuanced, and frightening activity that our species has ever invented. In fact, when I compare the complexity of teaching with that much more highly rewarded profession, “doing medicine,” I concluded that the only time medicine even approaches the complexity of an average day of classroom teaching is in an emergency room during a natural disaster. When 30 patients want your attention at the same time, only then do you approach the complexity of the average classroom on an average day.”
- Lee S. Schulman “The Wisdom of Practice”
Yep, read it over a couple of times and give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing a stellar job! And Schulman is talking about 30 students. I currently have 36 per class, and I know of teachers who are dealing with 40 students per class. How are we doing it? By the grace of God yes, but for me, it also involves two very important D’s.
Discipline in the classroom.
Delivery of my content.
Next week, we will focus more on the topic of establishing discipline in the classroom, so I will leave that “D” for later. Although I should state, delivery of content isn’t possible without proper discipline . Hence, Discipline is normally the 1st “D” for me. But ain’t nobody got time to read a lengthy blog on both right now. Also, you’re probably in the process of preparing lessons to deliver ‘content’ now, so the tips on its delivery will be timely.
Delivery of Content:
Like you, I’ve sat through seminars and workshops on how to deliver lessons in an interesting and student-centered manner. The tips sounded wonderful, but did they all work? For me, no. The list here, are ones that did, and I include some that I simply learnt along the way.
I really hope that these tips help, or at the very least, point you in the right direction to do your own research. Of course there are other ways to deliver content effectively to large classes, but I end this blog as I started it: these are practices/ tips that worked for me, in my tenure as an educator.
Next week, we look at the Discipline aspect of managing large classes. So stay tuned to 21st Century Educators and be sure to follow us on FaceBook!
* Peter, C. (2023). Oakley, B., Ragowsky, B., & Sejnowski, TJ (2021). Uncommon sense teaching: Practical insights in brain science to help students learn. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (202), 188-190.
** Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. M. (Eds.). (2007). Enriching curriculum for all students. Corwin Press.
*** Blaz, D. (2016). Differentiated instruction: A guide for world language teachers. Routledge