The fine art of managing large classes
When teachers have large classes, they all too often end up being unable to attend to the individual needs of students in the ways they know would make the biggest difference.
The cornerstone of education relies on understanding students’ individual needs and building strong relationships with them. Teaching a large class makes that a challenge – one that Art teacher Wendy Quinn knows well.
“A teacher might have as many as nine classes of 25-plus students per term,” she says. “It’s difficult to gain a deep understanding about each child to connect with them the best, because the sheer volume of students you have is so large.”
With Wendy’s junior classes of 25 students, lessons are run with uniformity. She ushers students in, delivers her instructions and by the time students set up their easels and paints, about a third of the lesson is gone.
At the other end of the spectrum, Wendy has seen how much can be gained when class sizes are small. This year at Mount Erin Secondary College, she has just nine Year 12 art students, which has made an incredible difference to the students’ learning, as well as to her own levels of satisfaction in the job.
Wendy guides each student as they develop an original idea or concept, using art theory as a way to explore different themes and areas of interest. The student then chooses their preferred medium – whether that be sculpture, painting or drawing – and Wendy provides them with one-on-one personalised assistance to realise their artistic vision.
“It’s amazing how well I know their folios and how in-depth our discussions about their ideas can be,” Wendy says. “We have detailed conversations, and everyone can express themselves.”
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