Currey Ingram Blog

Why Small Classes Matter

Posted by Dr. Danielle Barton, Lower School Division Head on Oct 30, 2019, 6:00:00 AM

A low student-teacher ratio, like your child experiences at Currey Ingram, is undoubtedly valuable. However, having low numbers without intentional practices would fail to result in the same benefits. One of the greatest advantages to a lower ratio is the increased supervision and constructive feedback that a child receives, which is a powerful evidence-based practice that results in improved outcomes (Hattie, 2008). 

In the classroom, the majority of feedback is provided through explicit comments about a child’s performance or guided questioning to deepen understanding. This might look like praising and extending a correct response or prompting and questioning to guide a child from an incorrect response to a correct one. To be most effective, feedback must be timely (i.e., in the moment), specific, goal-directed, consistent and actionable (Wiggins, 2012).

In addition to explicit comments, feedback can also be provided through observable actions of others or the outcome of an action. For example, a tennis ball remaining in bounds or flying out of bounds provides feedback on the quality of a swing. A crowds’ response to a joke will likely impact how and if it is delivered again in the future (Wiggins, 2012).

In social situations, children are often left to rely on the observable actions of their peer group. For young children, this can be difficult, as they may not fully attend to the reactions or understand the perspectives of those around them. In addition, children with learning differences often have corresponding struggles in managing friendships and understanding nonverbal cues, as well as emotion and behavior regulation, which makes navigating the school day a true challenge. Therefore, for students who struggle in these areas, it is important that all environments are used as teaching scenarios, with explicit and direct feedback provided to coach a child toward success.

At Currey Ingram, teachers provide social coaching and feedback constantly throughout the day: to navigate social play on the playground, to initiate and maintain conversations at lunch, to win and lose a game appropriately, and to implement a strategy to handle frustration or anxiety.

When your child comes home exhausted at the end of the school day, it is in part due to the close supervision and frequent feedback your child receives throughout his or her day; however, by providing such intentional and consistent feedback, individualized academic gains and generalized student behaviors can begin to happen more readily and result in positive, exciting and observable outcomes.

References:

  • Hattie, J. (2008). Visible Learning. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership, 70 (1), pgs. 10 - 16.
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