So, you’ve been assigned to teach a large class this semester, and the thought of facing a sea of students is already giving you anxiety. How will you keep them all engaged? How will you connect with them personally?
Managing a large class definitely comes with a lot of challenges, but with some preparation and strategy, you’ll be able to handle this unfamiliar situation with ease. These 6 essential tips will help you rock that big class and have your students singing your praises.
- Educate yourself
Prospering in the education sector is often a challenging task. One key way to flourish in this field is by receiving advanced education in specific concentrations that equip you with the skills, knowledge, and techniques to work in an education sector effectively. This can include Master of Arts and Master of Eduction programs, such as:
- MA in Higher Education Administration Leadership: This major prepares you for leadership roles in higher education settings, such as colleges and universities. You’ll gain a strong understanding of laws, ethics, and contemporary issues in higher education.
- MEd C&L in School Library Media: Pursuing this major helps you hone skills to serve as a school librarian in K-12 environments. You’ll learn how to provide resources for students and collaborate with teachers to meet students’ needs.
- MEd in Teaching of Writing for Grades P-12: This major prepares you to teach writing to students from preschool to 12th grade. By pursuing this degree, you’ll learn different teaching strategies, curriculum development, and ways to enhance the writing skills of students.
- MEd in Ed Leadership: This comprehensive program readies you for leadership positions in K-12 schools. You’ll delve into topics like special education, related laws, and effective practices to assist students comprehensively.
- MEd in Ed Leadership with NJ Certifications: This Master of Education program not only prepares you for educational leadership roles but also provides New Jersey state certifications. You’ll gain insights into special education, relevant laws, and effective strategies to support students in their studies.
- MEd in Literacy – Reading Specialist: This major helps you develop the necessary skills to serve as a reading specialist for K-12 students. You’ll gain knowledge about reading disabilities, assessments, and interventions to assist struggling readers.
- MEd in Special Education – ASD and Developmental Disabilities: This degree equips you with skills to teach students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and developmental disabilities. You’ll learn about assistive technologies and curriculum adaptation, preparing you to work as a special education teacher, curriculum specialist, or education consultant.
- MEd in Special Education -Teacher of Students with Disabilities: This program provides you with the knowledge necessary to teach students with disabilities across all levels. You’ll take courses in classroom management, assessment, and instructional strategies tailored for students with disabilities.
- Know Your Students
To teach a large class effectively, get to know your students. Learn their names, backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This will help you connect with them and tailor your lessons to their needs.
Make an effort to build rapport and connect with your students. Greet them at the door, smile, make eye contact, and engage them in casual conversation before and after class.
Set ground rules
Establish basic rules for behavior and interaction to maximize learning and minimize distractions. For example, rules might include raising hands before speaking, listening when others talk, and avoiding phone use. Discuss why each rule is important. Enforce them consistently from day one.
Outline your teaching style
Give students an overview of how you operate. For instance, do you lecture, facilitate discussions, or incorporate group work? How active a role do you expect students to take in class? The more students understand your approach, the better equipped they’ll be to succeed.
- Leverage Technology
Technology has become an indispensable tool for managing and engaging large classes. Here are a few ways to leverage tech in your classrooms:
Learning Management Systems
A learning management system (LMS) is essential for organizing course materials, assignments, and grades for students. Post all handouts, readings, and project details on your LMS so students have a one-stop shop for everything they need. Rather than handling piles of papers, have students submit assignments electronically through your LMS.
Don’t have time for in-depth discussions with over 100 students? Take discussions online. Pose a question on your LMS discussion board and have students respond to the prompt and each other. This allows all students to participate on their own time. Review and weigh in on the discussion to keep students on track.
Incorporate multimedia like videos, interactive images, podcasts, or simulations in your teaching. This variety engages students with different learning styles. Look for existing open educational resources or create your own. Share links or embed them directly into your LMS.
Offer online office hours via chat, video conferencing, or your LMS so students can connect remotely and get their questions answered. Some may feel more comfortable approaching you online, so provide both in-person and virtual options.
- Streamline Grading
When you have a large class, grading assignments and tests efficiently is essential. Here are some tips to streamline the process:
Focus on key points
Don’t grade every little detail; focus on the important parts that show an understanding of key concepts and skills. Provide feedback on 2-3 things they can improve for next time.
Create rubrics that clearly lay out your expectations for an assignment. This makes grading more objective and consistent. Share the rubrics with students ahead of time so they know what they need to do to succeed.
Spot check and extrapolate
Don’t grade every single student’s work. Grade a representative sample and use what you find to infer how the rest of the class performed. Follow up by spot-checking a few more to confirm your assumptions. Provide general feedback to the entire class based on trends you noticed.
Consider alternative assessments
Large classes often call for more creative assessment methods. Things like presentations, debates, portfolios, and peer reviews are great options. They provide opportunities for feedback but require less individual grading on your part. Get students involved in the assessment and evaluation process.
- Incorporate Active Learning Strategies
To keep students engaged in large classes, use active learning strategies that get them involved.
Have students think individually about a question or topic, then pair up to discuss their thoughts before sharing with the class. This encourages participation from even the shiest of students.
Ask students to write down one thing they learned that day or one question they still have as they leave class. This gives you valuable insight into their experience and helps guide future lessons.
Get students out of their seats and actively participate. Incorporate activities like simulations, experiments, interactive demos, or games to bring lessons to life. Some students may learn better by doing these engaging exercises.
Use quick surveys or polls to gauge student understanding and opinions. Digital tools make gathering and analyzing data from even large classes easy. Students will pay more attention if they know their input matters.
- Plan Group Activities
Group activities are essential for engaging students in large classes. Divide your class into groups of 3-5 students to:
- Discuss questions or topics together. This gives more students a chance to actively participate in conversations. Provide discussion questions and topics in advance so groups can prepare.
- Peer review assignments. Having students review each other’s work in groups takes part of the burden off you while still providing valuable feedback. Give clear guidelines for what aspects they should focus on.
- Collaborate on projects. Group projects are an excellent way for students to apply what they’ve learned in a more hands-on way. Assign roles within groups and check in regularly to keep them on track.
- Teach each other. Ask groups to research part of the material and prepare a short lesson to teach the rest of the class. This reinforces their own learning and builds valuable teaching skills.
So there you have it—some tried-and-true tips for wrangling those big classes and keeping everyone engaged. The key is staying organized, setting clear expectations, and finding ways to connect with students even in a sea of faces. It may feel overwhelming at first, but with practice, you’ll be handling large classes with confidence and ease. So keep your energy and enthusiasm high—your passion will spread to your students.