How do I manage a large class size?

Classroom management is a topic that encompasses so much of your experience as a teacher. It covers everything from class rules and roles to farther-reaching learning expectations, and your classroom management can impact productivity.

This academic year, you’re probably staring down the barrel of larger class size. Thinking ahead to classroom management with larger-than-ever class sizes can be daunting. Still, you can apply some techniques and strategies to implement effective classroom management in a crowded classroom.

Large class size

Why are classes bigger this school year?

The most impactful reason that class sizes are larger this year is the nationwide teacher shortage defining the 2022 back-to-school season. High levels of teacher burnout and half-hearted responses from policymakers have led many teachers to change careers. 

Not many people were willing to step in and take over those empty teaching positions, so many of those positions remain open even as the school year is starting. As a result, school districts opted to make class sizes larger. This means that the teachers who have stayed in the profession are now facing class sizes that are bigger than ever before.

7 tips and strategies for managing larger class sizes

With these techniques and strategies, you’ll be able to approach larger classes with a sense of preparedness and a focus on your students’ learning goals. 

Build class culture

Building class culture is one of the most effective ways to establish rhythms of classroom management. To build class culture, you need to make your rules and expectations exceedingly clear from the get-go. Then, you need to be consistent in implementation throughout the school year. 

A class culture that promotes good classroom management can be summed up with two words: expect and respect. Students know what to expect in a typical class so they can rise to the expectations of each lesson. Plus, they feel respected in the classroom, and in turn, they respect others as well.

Start class with bellwork

Establishing a consistent bellwork routine is a great way to help students expect and predict the class flow. When students know that they have bellwork at the beginning or end of each lesson, they get into an established rhythm in the classroom. They know where to look and what to do as soon as they enter the class, and this smooth transition at the beginning of class time can set the tone for a well-managed class throughout the period. 

Get to know your students

This strategy speaks to the respect aspect of classroom management and class culture. When you take time to get to know your students — and open up to let them get to know you — they feel seen and respected. Creating time and space in your classroom for students to get to know each other can help improve classroom management, too.

Use grouping

Grouping students is a great way to promote respect among students and to enlist the help of social connections in your classroom management. Set groups on the first day of school, and keep the groups for an extended time (like the nine weeks, one semester, or even the whole school year). Give group activities and allow time for frequent group interaction, then lean on those social connections to build up class culture and manage your class well. 

Work on your layout to handle more students

Utilizing space in a crowded classroom can help ease the classroom management load. When you position students in a way that promotes participation, they’re more likely to jump into the lesson. On the flip side, if some students feel physically isolated or far away from the action of your lesson, there’s a higher risk that they’ll interfere with your classroom management. A layout that keeps everyone focused and involved and accounts for social interaction and group work boosts your classroom management success. 

Minimize downtime

We’ve all seen students left to their own devices: while it can be fun at times, it often leads to a total breakdown of classroom management. For this reason, having extra lesson plans in your back pocket is always good. Don’t leave any class time empty. Even if you finish a lesson early, make sure you have a backup activity to help students focus on their learning goals. 

Set up online assignments that can be auto-graded

Perhaps one of the biggest strains of a larger class size is the amount of grading and feedback expected from the teacher. Setting up assignments with Web 2.0 tools such as Google Forms, Quizizz, or your school’s learning management system (LMS) takes grading off your shoulders. Plus, these tools offer immediate feedback. When you have to grade everything by hand, students face a feedback delay. 

TeacherMade helps teachers manage their class load. With TeacherMade, you can:

  • Convert your existing PDFs and worksheets into interactive assignments.
  • Go paperless, so you don’t have to juggle larger stacks of papers as class sizes climb.
  • Auto-grade assignments so you can focus on targeted feedback to students in open-ended questions.
  • Quicker feedback to inform your instruction and identify struggling students faster.