SchoolArts Room

Help for Teaching Large Classes

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Oct 3, 2010

Recently I received this email from a teacher:

Hi Nancy,


I've been a subscriber since I began teaching in 1993. This, by far, is my most difficult year as an art teacher. I have been blessed to have my own room (although for four I was in a small one, it was still a room) and a kiln. Many art teachers are not as fortunate. I have a wonderful school with supportive staff and parents, as well as some of the best students on the planet.
This year we are in a budget crunch and have class sizes in the 30s in grades 2-4. I didn't see it as a big deal last summer when we got the news. I figured I would do projects on smaller paper, do less 3D, etc. I had no idea how hard it would be. My students come for 50 minutes, and the first 15 minutes are wasted on crowd control, the last 10 to 15 on clean up. Kids are not getting the attention they deserve. We are not learning what the curriculum dictates. I can't even mix paint with my first graders because it's too chaotic. I have resorted to tempera in egg cartons, something I swore I would never do!
I would love to see a series of articles on how to handle large art classes (especially for elementary) and still maintain control and teach art....
Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!
I think most of our have struggled with large classes at some point. It's because of that my number one rule is "stay in your seat." I also have assigned seats, but still I am constantly moving kids around trying to find the best placement for each child.
Please share with us any suggestions that have been successful for you in dealing with large classes.