More Isn’t Always Merrier: How To Manage Overcrowded Classrooms

Today, education remains an inaccessible right for millions of children and young people around the world. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, about 262 million children and young people are out of school for the year 2017. This number includes 64 million children in primary school, 61 million in lower secondary school, and 138 million of upper secondary.

Aside from the problem of inaccessibility of education for all, one of the biggest problems in the education sector is overcrowding. Ideally, class sizes should only include 15-20 students. Unfortunately, because of the lack of resources and budget to add more space, many classrooms now exceed 30 students. In some areas, it’s not even surprising anymore to have more than 40 students in a single class.

According to a 2017 report from Class Size Matters, more than half of 1.1 million public school students in New York attend overcrowded schools. Overcrowded rooms have sadly become the new normal, and while it’s good news that there are many enrolled students, schools are forced to put as many students as possible in each room and use smaller spaces as classrooms.

Overcrowding has proven to have detrimental effects on both the teachers and the students. To combat this issue, more schools are finding and exploring alternatives such as interactive learning methods or using portable buildings as modular classrooms.

Teaching a large class can be a challenge, but it’s possible to make it work. Here are tips for teachers on how to still effectively teach when there are a few too many students inside a small space:

Encourage collaboration

Since you won’t be able to attend to the needs of every single student of your large class, it is recommended to create peer-to-peer support networks inside the classroom. It can be beneficial to allow your students to help and turn to each other for support which can even deepen their learning.

Aside from collaboration, flexible grouping can also be done. Move your students from group to group depending on their abilities and different learning paces for a specific task. This way, they can keep working on tasks that are just right for them and lets you help them in their individual needs.

children playing instruments in the classroom

Find ways to establish a personal connection

Knowing your students is a lot more challenging in larger class sizes. The overcrowding of classrooms causes the relationships between students and teachers to suffer. However, your relationship with your students is a big factor in their learning and productivity. While it is hard to connect to each one of them, find new ways to establish a connection with them. You can make them write questions for or about you, or let them answer surveys about their learnings and accomplishments. Regularly doing this will help them trust you and help you know them better.

Create activity lists

Distraction is one of the biggest problems in an overcrowded classroom. The more students are required to spend long hours in a small space, the easier it is for them to distract each other. One way to combat this problem is to make sure that you keep the whole class busy. Create an activity list and get your students preoccupied and working right away.

Just because a classroom is overcrowded doesn’t mean that learning and productivity have to suffer. Good teachers can find ways to foster growth even in the most challenging classroom settings.

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