The number of students in a classroom varies in every grade level, school and state. The conflict is whether or not teachers are comfortable with teaching more than a set number of students.
Robert Amstutz, a foreign language teacher at Rickards High School, does not have an issue with the number of students in his classes.
“Yes, wiith the amount of students. No, with the amount of different classes in the room at the same time. By way of explaining, I teach a foreign language, and the foreign language and other elective classes usually have classes that are mixed levels. For example, in one class I have the highest level senior students, a few juniors, and some freshmen, in level 3 honors, Level 3 IB, and Level 6.”
In many cases, classes are bunched together with students different levels grade-wise and literacy-wise. It may cause issues such as students falling behind or students wanting to move faster because they believe they are ready for more material.
“I have had a class as small as three students, and as large as 32. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Smaller classes, 3-10, can be awesome, if the personalities of the students work well together, but if there are conflicting personalities the class turns into teeth pulling to get them engaged. Larger classes 20 plus are great for getting a group engaged quickly, but demand much more in the way of classroom management skills,” said Amstutz.
Although teachers may be comfortable with teaching larger classes, their preference more often than not is a smaller class. Teachers prefer more one-on-one time with students to assure their success.
Allison Agbasoga, a language arts teacher at Griffin Middle School, said, “Class size most definitely hinders students because it is oftentimes hard to focus for some students, or some students don’t have the confidence to speak up or even raise their hand if they are not understanding something in the lesson. For instance, my fifth period is my biggest class: 25 students. However, I have my desks set into two rows facing the board to ensure that each student is paying attention and then also creating more of an intimate space where they can be vulnerable to ask questions.”
One of the reasons classes may be so populated is the school’s physical limitations or its location. Agbasoga agreed that schools have different populations because of their location.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, “Overcrowding affects classroom activities, as well as instructional planning. Teachers typically have less planning time and fewer resources in overpopulated schools. Teachers spend most of their time managing the overcrowded classroom, instead of providing quality instruction and trying innovative teaching strategies. Teachers in overpopulated schools also experience higher rates of burnout, higher absenteeism rates and higher levels of stress.”
When teachers are responsible for 32 kids in only one class, it’s not impossible for one or more students to fall behind.