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Large and mixed group management

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Do not over generalize your students' proficiency levels by making blanket classifications of good and bad students

Once you start teaching you will realize that no teaching-learning context is perfect. There are always imperfect institutions,people and circumstances to deal with. Most of them are beyond our control so we have to make do with what we have and in the best possible way.

In a perfect world, a class shoud have a maximum of 15 students but in many schools expecially in Asia and Latin America, class sizes vary from 40 to 60 or at times even more.The problems presented by large number are many; proficiency and ability vary widely across students. Individual teacher-student attention is minimised. Student opportunities to participate are lessened and teacher's feedback on student's work is limited. There may be some ways of dealing with this problem which may apply to one or several of the above challenges.

1. Try to make each student feel important and not just a number by learning names and using them

2. Assign students as much as interactive work as possible, including plenty of "get acquainted" activities at the beginning so that they feel a part of the community.

3. Optimize the pair and group work to give students chance to perform

4. Use peer feedback when possible

5. Use multisensory approaches and methods to cater to all level of students.

6. Set up a small area in the room where students can do individualised work

7. Organize informal conversation and study groups.

There is often a wide range of proficiency levels among students in the same class, especially in large groups, but even relatively small classes can be composed of students who have mixed ability. You are often faced with the problem of challenging the higher level of students and not overwhelming the low level ones, and at the same time keeping the middle level students paced towards their goals. Here are some suggestions to consider: 

1. Do not generalise your students' proficiency levels by making blanket classifications of good and bad students 

2. As much as possible identify the specific skills and abilities of each student so that you can tailor your techniques to individual needs

3. Offer choices in individual techniques that vary according to needs and challenges.

4.Take advantage of whatever learning centres or tutorial laboratories may be available at your institutions. 

5. Group work tasks offer opportunities for you to solve mutiple -proficiency issues. Sometimes you can place students of various ranges in the same group and at times students of the same range in a group together.