This year we’re working even more closely with a local state school, which is absolutely marvellous – a great way to forge friendships, learn from peers and get an insight into different ways of approaching education. For me, it’s the first time I’ve been faced with such a large group of students and I won’t lie, it’s not something I feel particularly comfortable with! We are very fortunate to have their mainstream teacher in the room with us and it’s a bonuc for a number of reasons – obviously discipline issues are dealt with by the teacher with more authority, but also it makes the work of monitoring large numbers much simpler.
Some initial thoughts on teaching large groups…
1. People get lost much more easily – both I think through sheer volume of voices in the class but also, and this may be a weakness on my part, because when you see someone is noticeably weaker, you feel even worse putting them on the spot to be listened to by 29 other people.
2. It’s incredibly difficult to remember people’s names. Fortunately I’ve been teaching in the school for a number of years, so I’m quite familiar with a lot of the faces in the sea before me…and perhaps that’s why I feel worse when I don’t remember someone’s name.
3. It’s not impossible to hear from everyone during the lesson – the nature of WGFB changes as you no longer want to hear from each individual after each activity, but there are enough moments of WGFB during the lesson that you can nominate everybody (even those souls mentioned in point 1, once we’re all a bit more comfortable!).
4. Everything takes longer. I don’t know whether this is because we’re working at an average lower level than we normally would in academy classes, or whether it takes longer because of the time it takes to monitor each group…hmmm, one to think about.
5. It’s difficult to keep/get everyone’s attention. There are always distractions – someone’s pencil falling on the floor, a whispered comment…and it takes much longer to snap the class back to the focus.
6. It’s really noisy! Oh, the joy of a communicative class where students are merrily conversing in English – it’s happening (with snitches of Spanish when they think you’re not listening), but it’s very loud 🙂 And it makes me think about which activities I’ll need to adapt to make them more “big-class-friendly” – running dictations for example are a possibility, but with one person dictating to the group, rather than students working in pairs. Shouting dictations are a definite no-no!
7. It’s really good fun! 🙂