Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes

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1 Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments Specialized Booklet 2 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes A Teacher s Gide

2 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes: A Teacher s Gide Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2006 iv+58 pp. (Embracing diversity: Toolkit for creating inclsive, learning-friendly environments Specialized Booklet 2) 1. Inclsive edcation. 2. Large classrooms. 3. Teacher s gide. 4. Corporal pnishment. 5. Positive discipline. ISBN UNESCO 2006 Pblished by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Brea for Edcation 920 Skhmvit Rd., Prakanong Bangkok 10110, Thailand Chief Editor: Caroline Haddad Design/Layot: Sirisak Chaiyasook Printed in Thailand The designations employed and the presentation of material throghot the pblication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal stats of any contry, territory, city or area or of its athorities, or concerning its frontiers or bondaries. APL/06/OS/53-500

3 Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments Specialized Booklet 2 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes A Teacher s Gide

4 This booklet is dedicated to the immense contribtion of teachers across the globe in awakening potential and fostering the fndamental capacity of hman beings to seek knowledge, to disseminate information and to share their collective wisdom.

5 Foreword The Dakar Framework for Action adopted at the World Edcation Form in Senegal dring April 2000 reaffirms edcation as a fndamental hman right. Ensring the right to edcation is at the very heart of UNESCO s mission, which is also affirmed and recognized by its Member States. Sch edcation mst also be a qality edcation. Ths, UNESCO emphasizes not merely the right to edcation, bt also particlarly the right to qality edcation for all. The UNESCO pblication Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments (ILFE) offers a holistic, practical means to make schools and classrooms more inclsive, learningfriendly and gender-sensitive. This gide, which enriches the ILFE Toolkit as a spplementary reference, focses on the specific isses that need to be addressed when teaching in large classes. The gide aims to help teachers by giving practical gidelines abot how to teach in large classes sccessflly withot compromising qality. Large classes are often perceived as one of the major obstacles to ensring qality edcation. Indeed, there are many research stdies that point to the disadvantages of large classes and advocate small classes as a factor to ensre qality edcation. In spite of this, large classes are a reality in many schools and many contries, often as a direct reslt of inadeqate fnding and the absence of political will to provide a sfficient nmber of teachers and classrooms that wold ensre a qality edcation. Providing tools to address the difficlty of teaching large classes is ths an important step towards realizing qality edcation for all (EFA) in school settings. This gide does not offer a niversal soltion to all the challenges related to teaching in large classes. It attempts to present a variety of practical methods and practices that cold be sefl for teachers who need to deal with a large class every day. It addresses isses sch as how to prepare and plan lessons specifically adapted for large classes. Frthermore, it provides sefl tips and pointers to manage the class in the best possible way and to see the large class as a resorce, rather

6 than a challenge, to the teaching-learning process. It is also abot changing the perspective from teaching that focses solely on didactic approaches to more child-centred and learning-friendly methods. An inclsive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE) is abot being friendly not only to children, bt also to teachers. Teachers are the single most important factor in improving and ensring the qality of edcation. Responsibility for preparing stdents for the ftre largely falls to them. Therefore, it is UNESCO s aim to provide teachers with the necessary tools, skills and spport needed to prse this task. As with the other booklets of the ILFE Toolkit, we hope that teachers will find that the content and methods presented in this gide will help to meet the needs of their daily work. This gide is trly a collective prodct. It was first drafted and then revised by George Attig of the Institte of Ntrition, Mahidol University, who has also served as a UNESCO consltant on inclsive edcation and gender, as well as a consltant to UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) and Save the Children for the development of child-friendly schools. It also benefited from the comments and sggestions of edcators arond the world. UNESCO Bangkok wold like to thank all of them for their contribtions. Ochirkhyag Gankhyag, Programme Assistant at UNESCO s Asia and Pacific Regional Brea for Edcation, coordinated the project. Sheldon Shaeffer Director, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Brea for Edcation

7 Contents Overview 1 What is a Large Class? 1 Challenging Opportnities 2 Booklet Contents 3 Creating a Well-Managed Learning Environment in Large Classes 5 The Classroom Environment 5 Organizing the Physical Environment 5 Bilding the Psycho-Social Environment 8 Teaching Effectively in Large Classes 20 How, Not Jst What, to Teach 20 Planning Lessons 20 Starting the Teaching Process 25 Using a Variety of Teaching Methods 28 Lectres 28 Active Learning Strategies 32 In-Class Exercises 33 Grop Exercises and Cooperative Learning 35 Objectives, Activities, and Design 35 Evalation 38 Other Active Learning Strategies 39 Evalating Learning and Teaching in Large Classes 41 The Role of Feedback 41 Giving Assignments 41 Giving Exams 44 Grading Assignments and Exams 47 Reflecting on Yor Teaching 48 Top 20 Tips for Teaching Large Classes 51 Where Yo Can Learn More 53 Pblications 53 Internet Resorces 56

8 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 1 Overview What is a Large Class? Many teachers in Asia and yo may be one of them find themselves working in primary school classrooms that contain many stdents, sometimes almost filling the room! Actally, thogh, a large class has no exact size. Usally it is measred in terms of the nmber of stdents per teacher (stdent-teacher ratio). In some contries, stdents per one teacher is considered large, while in other contries this is seen to be normal or even qite small. From a teacher s perspective, thogh, a class is large whenever it feels large. While a class of more than 50 stdents is sally considered a large class, to those of yo who normally teach 25 or fewer stdents, a class of 35 can be large and overwhelming. For many of s faced with large classes, we might be tempted to give p, thinking that there is no chance of getting so many stdents to learn. The problem is, however, that we assme that learning occrs in proportion to class size. The smaller the class, the more stdents learn. However, research shows that class size does not atomatically correlate with stdent learning. Stdents in large classes can learn jst as well as those in small ones. What conts is not the size of the class, bt the qality of the teaching. Evidence shows that stdents place more emphasis on the qality of teaching than class size. 1 Moreover, they may not mind being in a large class as mch as yo may think they do, or as mch as yo mind it yorself. I have taght hndreds of stdents over the span of many years, and my crrent class has 80 stdents. At first, I realized that I had finally achieved that comfortable secrity of having a ready-made set of lectre notes, volmes of exam and qiz qestions, and a sense of predictability regarding the corse. Strangely enogh, however, I was also bored and bothered. Bored from lectring abot the same things year after year, and bothered becase my lectres came across so rigidly that I was failing to impart to my stdents the satisfaction of finding soltions to problems. 2 1 Large Classes: A Teaching Gide Large Class Introdction. Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland, [accessed online on 10/7/2005] 2 Dion, L. Bt I Teach a Large Class in: A Newsletter of the Center for Teaching Effectiveness. Spring 1996, University of Delaware. bisc2.html [accessed online on 10/6/2005]

9 2 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Challenging Opportnities Teaching large classes is a challenge, bt it can also offer many opportnities for yo to improve yor teaching and to make it more enjoyable and rewarding for yo and yor stdents. In a large class setting, yo have the opportnity to improve yor organizational and managerial skills as yo work to creatively organize yor classroom into a comfortable, welcoming learning environment and to manage the many stdents within it. Large classes offer yo the opportnity to improve yor interpersonal skills as yo try different ways to get to know each stdent as an individal throgh their work in class or their lives otside of it. They will also eqally enjoy getting to know yo. Large classes give yo the opportnity to improve yor teaching and presentation skills. As the teacher above mentions, constantly lectring to a large class or even a small one can become boring and bothersome. The vale of a large class is that it contains a diversity of stdents and learning styles, and yo can se many different, active, and fn ways of teaching. The cmlative knowledge, experiences, skills, and interests of yor many stdents, frthermore, can be valable starting points for planning lessons and activities so that learning becomes meaningfl for yor stdents. In addition, by involving yor stdents families, yo will also have greater access to resorces for learning. Yo will also improve yor evalation skills as yo devise a variety of ways to tell whether yor stdents have really learned the material, instead of relying only on short answer exams, which may seem necessary for large classes. For instance, yo can give yor stdents in-class and ot-of-class assignments that ask them what they have learned and what qestions they have abot what they have learned. Rather than following yor stdents failres, yo can also track their sccesses, which are also yor sccesses in teaching. Yo will find also that involving yor stdents in their learning and in assessing how well they have done can save yo time and redce yor workload. Yor stdents can also benefit from being in large classes. When there are many stdents in a class, they can share many different

10 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 3 ideas and interesting life experiences. This stimlates the stdents and enlivens those parts of yor lessons where stdents can discss and learn from each other. Dring project work, stdents can learn to share responsibility and help each other, as well as to listen, to have patience, and to express themselves within a diverse grop of people skills that will be valable for them throghot their lives. This also brings variety and speeds p the work. Booklet Contents A growing nmber of resorces are emerging that can gide yo in creating and managing inclsive classrooms 3 as well as in maintaining positive discipline within them. 4 Many resorces, however, do not take class size flly into consideration, thogh some of their recommendations are relevant for classes of any size, and yo are encoraged to conslt them. This booklet is specifically designed to help yo to start overcoming the challenges of teaching large classes. It draws on the experiences of teachers who have had to learn to teach sch classes creatively and enjoyably. Yo can find many of them cited here, and we grateflly acknowledge their work and contribtions to meeting the challenge of teaching large classes. Overall, each section of this booklet gives yo practical tips and sggests strategies for: a) Creating a well-managed classroom commnity, so that yo and yor stdents are ready to learn in a comfortable physical and psycho-social environment; b) Teaching in large classes, inclding planning lessons for large classes and choosing effective alternatives to the standard lectre format; and 3 See, for example: Booklets 4 and 5 of Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments. Bangkok: UNESCO, This docment can be downloaded at: index.htm 4 See, for example: ILFE Specialized Booklet 1. Embracing Diversity: Tools for Positive Discipline in the Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Classroom A Gide for Teachers and Teacher Edcators. Bangkok: UNESCO, 2006.

11 4 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes c) Evalating learning and teaching in large classes, so that yo can provide good opportnities for stdents to show what they are learning, and yo can reflect on yor own teaching practices. Please remember, however, that there is no best way to teach large classes. Yo mst develop the approach that works best for yo based on yor teaching style, the characteristics of yor stdents, and the goals and objectives of yor lessons and crriclm. However, there are some ideas that do work well for many people, and yo will find many in this booklet that yo can adapt to yor way of teaching. Decide which ones are most likely to work for yo and try them, or modify promising ones to fit yor sitation. Some sggestions may seem rather obvios, and many are really principles for good teaching. However, they become even more important in large classes where problems can become magnified. If yo re teaching a large class for the first time, or simply want to try a new approach, it s a good idea to review and follow these points. Most of all, don t be dobtfl! Be creative! It will make yor teaching mch more enjoyable.

12 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 5 Creating a Well-Managed Learning Environment in Large Classes The Classroom Environment Virtally all of s have little to no control over how many stdents we mst teach. However, we do have control over the classroom environment in which they learn. This is very important, since this environment affects how well yor stdents can learn. Close yor eyes and imagine yorself as a new teacher who is assigned to teach a class containing 60 or more stdents. After the initial shock, or maybe in response to it, what qestions might yo ask yorself? Most likely the first qestion that wold come to mind is How am I going to manage them all? Actally, this qestion highlights one of the most critical aspects of working in large classes, namely, managing the classroom s environment so that it is a comfortable space in which to teach and learn. The classroom environment encompasses the physical environment inclding learning resorces for lessons as well as the psycho-social environment; for instance, sing ways to promote learning as a commnity to redce the feeling of crowdedness and to deal effectively with misbehavior. Yor ability to create well-managed physical and psycho-social environments can make the difference between a calm and fnctioning classroom and a classroom in chaos. Organizing the Physical Environment Ideally, a class is held in a bright, clean, well-eqipped room that accommodates every stdent comfortably and allows them to move arond and work well either individally or in grops. To encorage active learning and stdent involvement, seats are arranged so stdents can see each other as well as the teacher. Unfortnately, very few classrooms are ideal settings for learning and, especially in large classes, space is sally limited. Often hot, crowded, and noisy, small classrooms overflowing with many stdents

13 6 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes offer a poor learning setting for yo and yor stdents. Yo will need all of yor ingenity and planning skills to create a classroom that is a comfortable place in which to learn. Bt yor hard work will be worthwhile, since it will make yor job easier and more rewarding. Below are some areas associated with the classroom s physical environment that yo might consider as yo plan on how to accommodate all of yor stdents and redce feelings of crowdedness, confsion, and frstration that often plage large classes. 5 Maximize classroom space. While many of s don t have control over where we teach, we may have the opportnity to arrange or assigned classroom as we see fit. The arrangement of a classroom may be flexible or a challenge, bt the idea is to draw stdents into the grop and to create a physical space that makes them comfortable and want to enter into a discssion or grop sitation. In large class settings, space is often a lxry. To maximize what learning space is available, consider removing nnecessary frnitre to redce the feeling of overcrowding and to facilitate movement. If yo really don t need a large teacher s desk, ask for a small one. Instead of desks or chairs for stdents, consider sing mats or rgs with yor stdents being seated so that everyone sees each other and feels a part of the grop. In some classrooms in Bangladesh, for instance, the lack of desks and chairs is beneficial. A large learning space, covered with a clean, locally made carpet or mat, can be easily changed from a science investigation space to a drama space, and grops can easily be formed and reformed withot distrbing other classes. Several chalkboards may also be fond arond the classroom at the children s level, so that they can sit in grops and se the chalkboards for planning, discssing ideas, problem solving, etc. 6 5 See, for example: ILFE Specialized Booklet 1. Embracing Diversity: Tools for Positive Discipline in the Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Classroom A Gide for Teachers and Teacher Edcators. Bangkok: UNESCO, Booklet 5: Managing Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Classrooms. Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments. Bangkok: UNESCO, 2004.

14 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 7 Store books, instrctional materials (sch as chalk, rlers, paper, paint, and scissors), and teaching tools (sch as portable chalkboards, easels, chart paper, and work tables) so that they can be obtained and pt away easily, and, in crowded classrooms, do not take p valable space. If certain items take p too mch space, sch as worktables, remove them from the classroom and, if possible, place them otside, maybe nder a shady tree, where stdents can se them easily. If possible, keep yor belongings, lesson materials, and any other items that yo do not se dring class time in the teachers longe or in another safe place otside of the classroom. Facilitate movement. Develop plans in advance for how stdents can best enter and exit the classroom; for instance, stdents who sit in the back of the classroom can enter first, followed by those seated in the middle, and lastly by those seated at the front. A reverse strategy can be sed for exiting the classroom. Plan in advance how yo will change the classroom arrangement depending on what is being taght, sch as moving from a whole class arrangement for test taking to small grops for art or science lessons. Plan on how rotine activities will be condcted, sch as handing ot written assignments and then handing them back to stdents after grading. Also plan so that yor stdents individal needs can be met, sch as when they need to sharpen their pencils or to get spplies for learning. Use space otside of the classroom. School gronds can be a rich resorce for learning, and they can serve as an enjoyable complement to crowded classrooms. They are also important sites for stdents to develop both social and cognitive skills and to learn important lessons abot cooperation, ownership, belonging, respect, and responsibility. 7 Look arond yor school, identify good areas for learning, and incorporate them into yor lesson plans. For instance, different areas of the school gronds can be sed as activity centres to spport what is being learned abot a sbject in the classroom. In learning abot geometric shapes, for instance, stdents can explore the school gronds and identify as many geometrically-shaped objects as possible. Then they 7 Malone, K. and Tranter, P. Children s Environmental Learning and the Use, Design and Management of Schoolgronds, Children, Yoth and Environments, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2003.

15 8 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes can sit nder a tree and write down as many as they are able to recall. Monitor their progress! Before class ends, bring them all together, either in the classroom or otside, to present their findings. Display stdent work creatively. Space is needed to display stdent work. Rather than display boards or tables, which take p space, stdents work can be hng on a classroom wall or displayed jst otside the classroom door for everyone to see. Strings can be sed onto which each stdent s work is attached with clips, tape, or even blnt thorns. Decorating the room with stdent work will also help add to the attractiveness of the room and make it more welcoming, even if there are a lot of stdents in it. Involve yor stdents. Stdents can be very helpfl in managing the classroom s physical space, and it helps them to develop a sense of responsibility. They can hang p stdent work, create blletin boards, and pt away instrctional materials at the end of each lesson. Stdents can also be helpfl in solving space problems. When a problem occrs, sch as stdents bmping into each other or inadeqate seating space, ask them to sggest soltions. It is important to remember that what makes yo feel comfortable may not be the same as what makes yor stdents feel comfortable. At the beginning of the year, organize yor classroom, and then ask yor stdents if they are comfortable with it. Better yet, divide them into grops and ask each grop to look arond the room and its contents, and then to draw a pictre of how they wold like the room to be organized. Use ideas from their drawings to design yor stdents personal classroom. Try the arrangement for one or two weeks, and then ask yor stdents if they are comfortable with it. Change the classroom arrangement if they feel a new one wold be more comfortable. Moreover, change it whenever yo sense that yor stdents are becoming bored with sitting in the classroom. Bilding the Psycho-Social Environment A classroom is often called a learning commnity. It is that place within yor school where yo and yor stdents can be fond reglarly, where everyone hopeflly knows everyone else, and one in which everyone works together teacher and stdents alike to learn new things abot the world.

16 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 9 In large classes, it is very important to create a sense of commnity, one that shows yor interest in and accessibility to stdents and which encorages yor stdents to learn abot yo and participate in the learning process. The goal is to get yo and yor stdents to better nderstand each other. Creating this sense of commnity and its positive psycho-social environment can motivate yor stdents to learn, get them involved, and help them to learn to their fllest, even nder seemingly crowded conditions. Moreover, stdents have reported a greater sense of vale in their learning and earn better scores when a teacher is trly willing to help them learn. Below are some sggestions to create a positive psycho-social environment in yor classroom commnity or improve pon the one in which yo and yor stdents are already learning. Make a large class feel small. Many teachers try to make a large class small by treating it as sch. They move towards a stdent who has asked a qestion, which redces physical and social distance, and they help class assistants distribte materials. Remember: stdents may not mind being in a large class as mch as yo do. Stdents once described a teacher who made a large class seem mch smaller becase of his personal approach. He moved arond a lot, walking p and down the room. Yo knew that he wanted his stdents to come to class and that he cared abot his stdents. This teacher came to class early to talk to stdents. He helped stdents connect with others who cold help them with their work. He recognized his stdents as people with interests and lives otside of his class. 8 Temporarily redce class size. Dring the first two or three days of the new school calendar, some teachers intentionally redce the size of their classes. They divide their classes in half (or even by one-third), with one-half coming to school in the morning, while the other half comes in the afternoon. Dring this time, each teacher can condct getting to know yo activities to learn stdent names, to collect information abot each stdent s family backgrond and interests, as well as to initially assess each stdent s knowledge and skills throgh diagnostic testing (discssed below) or simple qestionnaires. 8 Intentional Learning: A Process for Learning to Learn. American Acconting Association.

17 10 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Know yor stdents match names with faces. Althogh it may seem frightening in a large class setting, learning yor stdents names is the first step in creating a comfortable classroom that will encorage stdent participation. It also shows stdents that yo are interested in them as individals. Fortnately, there are many simple ways for learning stdents names and getting to know them: Make a seating chart. Ask stdents to sit in the same seats for the first few weeks and prepare a seating chart. Try to memorize for or five names at each class session. Take photographs or have stdents draw pictres. If possible, grop stdents for pictres dring the first or second day of class. Posing for a pictre often creates an informal, relaxed environment. Pass the photographs arond and have stdents write their names next to their pictre, or nmber each stdent and have them write their names at the bottom of the photograph next to their nmber. If photographs are not possible, have them draw pictres of themselves, or pt them in pairs and have them draw their partner. Encorage them to draw something niqe abot their partner, sch as a missing tooth or crly hair, to help match pictres to faces. Add their names to the pictres, and place the pictres near where they sit. If it is not possible to pt the pictres near the stdents, for the first week or two of school have yor stdents sit in rows, if they are not doing so already (yo can break them into learning grops later). Line p their pictres vertically on the wall next to each row, with the top pictre being the stdent nearest the wall, and the bottom pictre being the stdent frthest from the wall. Use name cards and tags. If photographs or pictres are not possible, have stdents make name cards that they place in front of them dring class. If yo are not sing desks, yor stdents can make name tags to wear dring the first few weeks of school. Before class, and dring it, learn the names of stdents sitting along the aisles and call on them in class by name. Progressively work yor way to the centre of the room, calling each stdent by name.

18 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 11 Use introdctions. Have a few stdents introdce themselves. Then stop the introdctions and ask another stdent to name all of the stdents who have been introdced. Once the first few names have been recalled, move on to a few more, and so on, ntil everyone has been introdced. For very large classes, do this exercise over the first week and select a small grop of stdents to make introdctions each day. Actively take attendance. Call roll sing the stdents names several times dring the beginning of the school year to connect faces and names as soon as possible. Even thogh there may be some names that yo don t seem to be able to learn, yor stdents will greatly appreciate yor effort. Actively se stdents names. Have stdents give their names each time before they speak. This can be contined ntil everyone feels they know the people in the room. Use stdents names as often as possible. Memorize. Strive to memorize a row or grop of stdents per day. In the few mintes before class begins, review what yo ve already memorized and then add another row or grop of stdents to that list. Use ces. Match a stdent s name with a physical or personality trait of that specific stdent. For instance, Maria has the missing front tooth; Ramon has blond, crly hair; and Shireen is always smiling. When yo are asking stdents to introdce themselves, also ask them to give one otstanding physical featre that distingishes him or her from the rest of the grop. These featres shold be consistent over time and visible from the front of the room. Creatively se class time. When giving an in-class written assignment, for instance, ask stdents to place a sheet of paper with their names in large letters in front of them, or pt their name tag on their desk in front of them. Yo can then wander arond the room learning names.

19 12 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Involve stdents. Asking two or three stdents each day to be class assistants to help yo with demonstrations, distribting materials, or other activities can also help yo to learn their names. Talk to them while yo are working on the activity so that yo can learn abot their backgronds and interests. Break class into small grops. Dividing the entire grop into smaller working grops will help facilitate name recall. Classroom time can be sed to give small projects for each grop. Only having to remember 8-9 people in a small grop is mch easier than looking at 60+ faces. Work on visalizing which faces sit in which seats. Then work on memorizing every name from a particlar grop. 9 Condct interactive getting to know yo activities dring the first two or three days of the school year so that the stdents learn abot each other, and yo can learn abot yor stdents. For large classes, ask six or eight stdents to introdce themselves at the beginning and end of each school day. Another activity is called the name game. While this game works well with smaller classes, it can easily be sed in large classes by groping stdents or when the class has been made temporarily small throgh some other method. The game begins with a stdent giving her name. The second stdent gives the name of the first person and his own name, and the third stdent gives her name and the names of the first two stdents. The chain contines ntil it retrns to the first person, with the teacher preferably near the end. Yo can also develop a getting to know yo form with fill-in-theblanks like, After school I like to My favorite food is My favorite activity is My favorite sbject in school is I want to be like I want to be a when I finish school. 9 Teaching & Advising: Getting Started The First Week of Class. Learning Stdents Names. Teaching and Learning Center, University of Nebraska - Lincoln. [accessed online on 3/7/2006]

20 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 13 Yo can se this form as a way for stdents in large classes to get to know each other better, even if they have been together in the same class before. On the sheet of paper with this information, add a colmn on the right side of the paper bt leave it blank. After yor stdents have filled in their blanks, ask them to find other stdents with the same response to each statement and to write each stdent s name in the colmn. Create stdent profiles. In large classes, teachers need an effective way to learn abot their stdents lives otside of the classroom so if learning problems arise, they can help the stdent as mch as possible. Many teachers develop simple qestionnaires that ask stdents abot their families. They inclde qestions on aspects that might affect a stdent s learning and attendance in school, sch as whether a stdent s parents are still living or married and if they live in the same hosehold or have migrated temporarily for work; who takes care of the stdent; how many persons are in the hosehold; what is their relationship to the stdent; what are their edcation and occpational backgronds; and what resorces the family has access to, sch as income, land, or commnity development fnds. The information can be collected in many ways, sch as sending the qestionnaire home to be filled ot by parents or gardians or interviewing the stdents, themselves. If a stdent starts doing poorly, a teacher can conslt the information from the qestionnaires to identify possible cases and actions. 10 Be personal. Personalizing a large class means presenting yorself as a person to yor stdents, not simply their teacher. Yo are showing them how mch yo want to know abot them, as well as how mch yo want them to know abot yo. While it is not necessary to share very personal information with yor stdents, inclding information abot yorself in lectres and dring learning activities can help personalize the learning environment. The process can begin on the first day when yo are talking abot what yor stdents will be learning, and yor experiences in how stdents learn best. Remember: hmor and showing that yo can lagh at yorself can help establish a positive relationship with yor stdents Booklet 3: Getting All Children In School and Learning. Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Environments. Bangkok: UNESCO, Large Classes: A Teaching Gide Large Class Introdction. Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland, [accessed online on 10/7/2005]

21 14 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Allow stdents to express themselves. Giving each stdent the chance to talk in class dring the first two or three weeks of school will encorage them to participate in large class discssions. Remember: the longer a stdent goes withot speaking in class, the more difficlt it will be for him or her to contribte, and yo will lose a valable opportnity to learn jst what they have learned. Yo might want to have stdents work initially in small grops dring the first few weeks of school, becase this may make it easier for shy stdents to later contribte in the large class setting. Encorage qestions and comments. Many stdents are too shy, or embarrassed, to ask qestions or make comments in front of their peers. Some teachers actally do not like stdents to ask qestions becase they feel it threatens their athority. Qestions, however, are a valable means of getting feedback on what yor stdents are learning, what they are having difficlty with, and how yo can make yor teaching more meaningfl - and enjoyable - for yo and yor stdents. To encorage stdents to ask qestions or give their views abot what they are learning, some teachers se prompts. In this techniqe, the teacher asks a qestion or makes a statement that stdents are expected to answer in terms of their experiences or what they are learning. 12 Prompt nmber one may say: Or class is very large, and I want to get to know all of yo as qickly as possible. So tell me abot yorself, what yo like and dislike, any interesting experiences yo have had, and yor feelings abot school. Another prompt might be What qestions do yo have abot, and then give stdents time to formlate their qestions. Some teachers recommend conting to 10 qietly to themselves in order to give stdents time to formlate their answers. If none of yor stdents respond, ask for a volnteer to smmarize a particlar point that was made in class or dring an activity. Responses, sch as I m glad yo asked that or That s a good qestion, will encorage yor stdents to contine asking qestions and giving comments. Nonverbal actions, sch as smiling or nodding, can also show yor spport for stdent qestions and comments. 12 Brenner, J. Making Large Classes More Interactive, Inqiry, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring [accessed online on 12/2/2005]

22 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 15 Acknowledge difficlt concepts and anticipate difficlties. Stdents in large classes may not want to ask or answer qestions becase they fear showing others that they don t nderstand the concept that yo are teaching. They have not mastered it. To help them overcome their fear, admit that it is difficlt to nderstand material for the first time. In explaining a difficlt concept or lesson, yo might talk abot the difficlties yo had in learning it, and what methods yo sed to help learn and remember it. Before class, after yo have finished preparing yor lesson, ask yorself: What might my stdents find hard to follow in this lesson? What examples might make that more nderstandable? Some teachers keep a diary of errors stdents sally make in assignments or tests, or qestions that most commonly arise, as a reminder of what stdents find most difficlt to nderstand. Remember: By acknowledging difficlty and taking steps to prevent it, the risk of belittling stdents or embarrassing them in front of others will be redced. 13 Be available. One of the biggest disadvantages of large classes is the high stdent-teacher ratio. One way to combat this problem is to be available to stdents before and after class. Before class, yo might walk arond the school gronds or arond the classroom and ask stdents how they are feeling that day. Jst as class ends, tell yor stdents that yo are available to answer any qestions they might have. Set aside mintes at other times of the day for stdents to come and ask yo qestions; sometimes these qestions are ones that they do not want to ask in front of others. Yo can also target five or more stdents a day and talk with them abot yor class or school. In general, get to know their names, and learn something abot them as individals. Remember: The more approachable yo are in terms of yor manner and genine interest in yor stdents, the more likely stdents will be comfortable in seeing yo, in talking with yo, and in listening to yo in a large class setting. 13 Stdent Ratings of Teacher Effectiveness: Creating an Action Plan. Center for Spport of Teaching and Learning, Syracse University, New York. ed/cstl2/home/teaching%20spport/teaching%20at%20su/stdent%20ratings/ 12A500.htm [accessed online on 1/30/2006].

23 16 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Pay attention to individal stdents. A large class is different from a small one in terms of the increased nmber of stdents who need yor attention. While some stdents will do well in either small or large classes, the performance of stdents who reqire more gidance often sffers in large classes. This problem can be dealt with in many ways, sch as tracking stdents progress by reviewing their attendance, their performance on exams and homework, their participation in class, and their performance in other classes. Yo might also give what is known as a diagnostic test covering the knowledge and skills reqired for mastering a specific topic or lesson. The test, which is given in the first week of school or when starting a new topic, is not graded. Its sole prpose is to help yo identify those stdents who may need extra help so that yo can begin working with them early. Yo can ths focs yor attention on a smaller grop of stdents who need yo the most, rather than the large, often overwhelming, class of many. If yo notice an abrpt change in the behavior or learning performance of a stdent, yo might have an individal conference with him or her. Be sre to ask abot the stdent s home life, since it can also affect their performance. If a stdent s problem is beyond yor ability to handle, yo shold refer him or her to conselling or other service that might be available. If several stdents are having difficlty, yo might arrange grop sessions to review material and answer qestions. Establish reasonable rles for stdent behavior. All classrooms need rles to fnction effectively, and they are a necessity for large classes. Stdents need to know the limits, as well as how to behave with others and respect their rights. Explain yor rles early on and stress the vale of cooperation and consideration. General gidelines for developing rles inclde the following 14 : Involve yor stdents in developing classroom rles! Yo might take a rights-based approach by starting with the principle that yo may do what yo want in this classroom, nless what yo do interferes with the rights of others, sch as yor classmates and yor teacher. Then ask yor stdents to identify what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not 14 ILFE Specialized Booklet 1. Embracing Diversity: Tools for Positive Discipline in the Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Classroom A Gide for Teachers and Teacher Edcators. Bangkok: UNESCO, 2006.

24 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 17 acceptable becase they violate the rights of others. Develop rles to flfill these rights as well as penalties for violating the rles. Remember that penalties shold be consistent with the natre of the misbehavior and based on positive discipline to help yor stdents to learn good behavior. For instance, making a stdent stand in a corner facing the wall for breaking a glass teaches the stdent nothing. Having the stdent apologize for his or her action and clean p the mess teaches him or her responsibility. Have yor stdents develop a classroom constittion or classroom policy board containing the rles and prominently display it in the classroom. Ask them to sign it so that they agree to adhere to the rles and, if they break them, they will abide by the conseqences. Misbehavior is less likely to occr if a stdent makes a commitment to avoid breaking the rles and to engage in other, more desirable behaviors. Make only a few rles that emphasize appropriate behavior; neither yo nor yor stdents will remember a long list. Make the rles as clear and nderstandable as possible. They shold be stated behaviorally: Keep yor hands and feet to yorself is clearer, and sends a more positive message than no fighting. Consider making rles or setting expectations for the following isses in order to create a smoothly fnctioning classroom: (a) beginning and ending the period or day, inclding how attendance will be taken and what stdents may or may not do dring these times; (b) se of materials and eqipment; (c) how to ask permission for nexpected needs (sch as going to the toilet or sharpening a pencil); (d) seatwork and independent grop work procedres; and (e) how stdents are to ask or answer qestions. Choose rles that make the classroom environment orderly and promote sccessfl learning. Do not develop classroom rles that yo are nwilling, or are nable, to enforce consistently. Moreover, select rles that are nanimosly agreed pon, or abided by, everyone in the school. If stdents learn that they can t behave in a certain way in yor classroom, bt can do so in other classes, they will test the limits to see how far they can get away with a misbehavior.

25 18 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Revisit classroom rles reglarly to see if some are no longer necessary. If there are, praise yor stdents, and then ask them if other rles are needed. Use positive discipline techniqes. Stdents in class will misbehave and violate rles, no matter if the class is large or small. It is a normal part of their development and not a reflection on yo. When stdents misbehave, a teacher may se corporal pnishment as a way to control the sitation. This excse is common among teachers who face large classes, especially ones in which there are no set rles or rotines. The stdents do not know what is expected of them and the conseqences for misbehaving; and the teacher did not take the time to bild a positive relationship with the stdents so they wold want to be good. This may be de to his or her athoritative classroom management style, one that says, I m the teacher and we ll do things my way! In trying to maintain control, the teacher may also se corporal pnishment to try and pt fear into the hearts of the other stdents so, hopeflly, they won t misbehave as well (bt they do). Using the threat of physical violence, however, does not encorage stdents to learn from the teacher, only to fear him or her. It also destroys the classroom s psycho-social environment. Moreover, corporal pnishment is a violation of hman rights, and in many contries it is illegal. While corporal pnishment is meant to control a stdent s behavior, positive discipline is meant to develop a stdent s behavior, especially in matters of condct. Rather than corporal pnishment, there are many positive discipline techniqes that can be sed. Following is a list of positive disciplinary actions that yo can take to gide stdents whose misbehavior is demanding attention. Catch them being good; praise them when they are not seeking attention and misbehaving. Ignore the behavior when possible, giving the stdent positive attention dring pleasant times. Teach them to ask for attention (for instance, make notice me, please cards that they raise when they have a qestion). Give them a stern eye (look), bt do not speak. Stand close by rather than far away (there s no need for attention-getting behaviors if yo are standing next to them).

26 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 19 Target-stop-do; that is, target the stdent by name, identify the behavior to be stopped, tell the stdent what he is expected to do at that moment, let him make the decision abot what he does next and its conseqences. Do the nexpected, sch as trn the lights off, play a msical sond, lower yor voice, change yor voice, talk to the wall. Distract the stdent, sch as ask a direct qestion, ask a favor, give choices, and change the activity. Sometimes teachers in large classes se corporal pnishment when they are angry or frstrated. Yet, there are many positive ways to deal with anger and frstration. Some teachers tell their stdents, I need a moment to calm down; I am very angry right now. Others calm down by conting to 10 or by leaving the room for several mintes. Some teachers describe their feelings to their stdents to help them nderstand what annoys them. The stdents then learn what not to do and why. They might do it again, bt they are responsible for their actions and will have to deal with the conseqences. Whatever the case, yo are strongly advised to develop a positive discipline plan that incorporates these methods. 15 Involve yor stdents. Stdents can be very helpfl in managing a classroom s psycho-social environment. To deal with misbehavior, stdents can elect a classroom disciplinary committee to develop a code for classroom behavior (rles), to identify sitable penalties, and to decide what shold be done in cases of misbehavior. Another challenge for large classes is how to monitor what is happening with yor stdents, within the classroom, and otside of it. Consider developing a Stdent Management Team a grop of 4-6 elected stdents that represent the interest of all of the stdents and have them meet with yo to share concerns and ideas on how to make the class better. 15 For assistance, conslt: ILFE Specialized Booklet 1. Embracing Diversity: Tools for Positive Discipline in the Inclsive, Learning-Friendly Classroom A Gide for Teachers and Teacher Edcators. Bangkok: UNESCO, 2006.

27 20 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes Teaching Effectively in Large Classes How, Not Jst What, to Teach Close yor eyes and think back to when yo were a stdent; maybe yo were one of many in a single classroom. When did yo feel that yo were jst not learning anything? List yor ideas on a piece of paper. Some of the most common reasons why stdents in large classes may not be able to follow what yo are teaching are listed below. 16 Are any of these reasons on yor list? The lessons, lectres, or activities are not clear to the stdents. The teacher appears to be nenthsiastic or bored. The teaching method is boring. The examples sed in class do not help the stdents to nderstand or apply the concepts being taght in a practical manner. The examples have no meaning. Important points are not emphasized, and main ideas are not smmarized. Do any of these reasons characterize the way yo teach? Be honest! If they do, don t worry. The information in this section will help yo to teach more effectively. Planning Lessons In large classes, it is especially important to make the best se of yor time and the time available for learning. This means planning in advance. 16 Stdent Ratings of Teacher Effectiveness: Creating an Action Plan. Center for Spport of Teaching and Learning, Syracse University, New York. Stdent%20Ratings/12A500.htm [accessed online on 1/30/2006].

28 Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes 21 A sizable portion of the work involved in teaching a large class takes place well before the first day of class. For example, in a small class yo can more easily give a spr-of-the-moment (spontaneos) assignment, bt in a large class yo will need more time to careflly plan yor lesson and its activities. Unfortnately, many teachers have never been taght how to plan lessons. They were taght to rely on textbooks, in some cases becase a textbook is the only available teaching aid. In any case, a good lesson plan will help to relieve yor own fears abot teaching many stdents becase yo will know in advance what yo will do, why, and how. Yo will be able to deliver a lesson calmly, and yor confidence will carry over to yor stdents who, in trn, will be more comfortable in learning from yo. Even if yo rely on a textbook, yo mst plan how to commnicate the information in it so that all of yor stdents will nderstand. For large classes, this planning is not a lxry; it is a necessity becase it will bring order into the classroom environment, even thogh it may be crowded. The planning process centres arond three major areas: 1. The classroom s physical and psycho-social environment, as noted above. 2. The content, that is, what topic has been identified in yor national crriclm docments, and how can this topic be made meaningfl to yor stdents and adapted to fit the local commnity; and 3. The process, or how the content is taght, which may involve sing different teaching methods to meet the different learning styles of stdents or to maximize the time available for teaching and learning. Following are some of the most important elements in lesson planning that can help yo to manage the learning of many stdents. Be comfortable with what yo are teaching (topic, content). Teaching large classes becomes mch more difficlt if yo are ncertain abot what yo are teaching. Read p on those topics that yo will be covering so that yo are confident in presenting them and can maintain a steady focs dring yor teaching. Yor stdents will be able to follow yor lectre and its activities easily, and will be less likely to

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