5 Tips for Teaching in Multi-Grade Classrooms

Being a teacher is one of the most demanding jobs around, and it can be made even more challenging if you’re in charge of teaching multi-grade classrooms. These groups, also known as split or combination classrooms, are made up of students from two or more grade levels. The idea of having to instruct multiple levels of students at various academic stages, receiving different material can be rather intimidating. When it comes right down to it, split teaching can actually be approached nearly as any other educational assignment would be. It simply requires some tweaking with regard to structure and strategy. Read on for tips on teaching in these combined classrooms and how you can make it work for both yourself and your students.

Determine Your Requirements

It’s imperative that you find out the requirements under which you must work. You don’t want to make a plan for the ways in which you will structure your lessons, only to discover that the administration of your district requires something entirely different. Approach your building’s administrator to set up a meeting to discuss the parameters within which you’ll need to structure your classroom. Ask specific questions to determine what might be acceptable and what won’t work at all. For example, you’ll want to discover whether you need to teach the curriculums separately or if you can combine your grades for certain lessons.

Consider Student Abilities Instead of Grade Level

If you’re permitted to teach different curriculum at once, you may find that it’s easiest to approach things by ability levels rather than grade levels. Even single-grade classrooms contain a wide range of academic abilities. Think of ways in which you might structure your lessons in these cases, and then apply that approach to your multi-grade classroom. Sometimes grouping students of varying strengths is the best plan so that the stronger ones can influence and assist those who may be struggling.

Create Activities for Groups Not Being Taught

It’s true that you’re only one person. This doesn’t mean you need to stretch yourself thin by meeting every student’s needs every minute of the day. There will be times you’ll be teaching a group of students and another will be left to their own devices. Create some structured activities or lessons for these students to busy themselves with while your attention is elsewhere. These can be solo activities such as quiet reading or simple group projects.

Incorporate Everyday Experience into Learning

A particularly effective strategy to use with split classrooms is to bring everyday experiences into the curriculum. This is quite useful in any learning environment, as it helps to clarify new concepts when students can personally relate to them in some way. The concept can be especially efficient when you’re dealing with different grade levels and lessons. Combining lessons to revolve around a common cultural or everyday life experience can also really bring your students together and create camaraderie.

Assure Parents with Specific Information

New things can be a bit scary for everyone, including parents. If your students’ parents are unfamiliar with the combined classroom approach, they will probably have lots of questions. They may even wonder if such a structure will allow for their child to receive the kind of learning experience that is best. Being prepared to answer questions and to show evidence of the ways in which this model can benefit students will go far to ease the parents’ minds and to take pressure off of you down the road.

Teaching combination groups doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary. In fact, it can actually be a lot of fun and provide a number of advantages to students. Have fun with your multi-grade classroom and allow yourself to stretch your creativity.