Busting the “I Could Do That If I Had A Smaller Class” Myth

escape from crowd Busting the I Could Do That If I Had A Smaller Class Myth

Did you know that…

…research supports the idea that quality of instruction and use of formative assessments have 4 to 5 times the effect on student achievement than class size?

I hear it around schools all the time: "Oh gosh, if ONLY I could have a smaller class size then I could really get crackin’ with these kids!"

But here’s the weird thing, I also hear: "Oh gosh, if ONLY my small group wasn’t filled with the ‘bad’ kids then I could get crackin’ with these kids!"

So here’s the question……..which one is it?

If you read my blog, have heard me speak or know me personally then you know that I am absolutely unapologetic about the effect of quality teaching and how I do believe that it WILL solve all of the drama around education.  Let me repeat: I have found the answer to all the drama in the education world and that answer is QUALITY INSTRUCTION.

Notice I don’t "Quality instruction under perfect circumstances"!  (I haven’t said that because I’ve never seen it!)

So, while smaller class sizes might provide us with OPPORTUNITIES to do better, more or greater work with kids, if don’t TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY, then the small group size doesn’t figure into the "effect" on students.

Say this with me: HAVING A SMALLER CLASS SIZE DOES NOT ENSURE THAT EXCELLENT TEACHING AND EXCELLENT LEARNING IS TAKING PLACE(repeat as needed, even when I’m not around!)

What does it mean to take advantage of a small group setting?  Well, a well-run, highly effective small group should provide MORE of everything for the students in that group:

  • MORE extended discussion
  • MORE corrective feedback
  • MORE specific, academic praise
  • MORE opportunities to respond
  • MORE think time
  • MORE explicit, direct teaching
  • MORE more overall intense instruction
  • MORE teacher modeling
  • MORE scaffolding

Small groups should also give kids LESS of certain things:

  • LESS opting out
  • LESS interruptions
  • LESS behavior problems
  • LESS teacher talk while the kids watch
  • LESS watching the more mastered students do all of the work
  • LESS confusion
  • LESS lost instructional time due to slow transitions or

Leave a reply