Class-Size Envy

So all summer I took a break from reading blogs. (Instead I did a lot of reading about cognitive development in infancy and early childhood, which is absolutely fascinating.) And so, with these last couple of weeks, I’ve been catching up on the huge backlog in my Reader account.

In addition to that, it’s the beginning of the school year, so people are posting about their new classes and mentioning class sizes.  Like a “giant class of 19” or an “enormous class of 26”.   I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not picking on anyone here– circumstances and expectations vary, and if your largest class last year was 14, then I know that 19 must seem huge, but my god, I am so jealous.

I have 47 students in my class. (Although one of them said that he was planning on dropping, since he didn’t feel like he understood the prerequisite material at all– I may get down to 46.  Yup.)  I should also mention that the furniture in this classroom (and in almost all of the rooms “owned” by the math department) is meant for no more than 40.  So they shove a bunch of those little onesie desks at the back of the rooms, many of which are broken.

Do you know how awesome it would be to have reasonable class sizes?  What I could do with a class of 24?  Or 30?  19 students would  be a dream come true.

Last fall, I taught 5 classes of 48 (which is the fire marshal limit for the classrooms my classes were held in).  Only one of the classes dropped significantly in size during the course of the semester, which I think had more to do with the time of day than anything I did.  And yes, if I could figure out how to get students to drop my class, I probably would.  I’ll be able to care about student retention again when they start giving me reasonably-sized classes again.

There’s no real point to this post.  Last year, I was actively looking for strategies to deal with larger classes.  Now I think I’ve resigned myself to the idea that classes this size mean that I can’t teach the way that I want to.  So I do my best, and muddle through.

Can’t help being jealous though.


3 thoughts on “Class-Size Envy

  1. No one drops? What’s up with that? We have a pretty high drop rate in our lower level classes. Even the higher level classes have some drops. I started with 50 or 51 in my calculus. We’re down to 44 or 45. That’s a typical settling out where I teach. I used to let anyone add, because I knew the drops would bring the size down. Fewer people drop these days, so I have to be careful about not adding too many students. (Calc I is my biggest class. My calc II is at about 25, and my pre-calc is at about 35.)

    I think 25 is prefect for college. For young kids, quite smaller.

    • Part of the reason we don’t have many drops is that the state started a new policy of setting a maximum of six drops for a student’s entire college career. (Which I think is a terrible, terrible policy.) But it used to be that those students would just stop coming, and I would consider them as unofficially dropped.

      That stopped happening for me for some reason. No idea why.

      I agree that 25 would be perfect. I used to have classes that size, back in 2008 and before. I miss that.

  2. 6 drop maximum sounds terrible to me too. We have a 3 repeat limit on any particular class. Sounds reasonable, but individuals have circumstances that sometimes get in the way, and they need that 4th repeat. Nope. And college dreams go down the drain. Our society is following some ugly policies these days.

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