How teachers approach mixed class teaching? Any experience?

(21 Posts)
lljkk Wed 30-Jan-13 14:53:12

... in the next 6 years for the first 2-3 months will be socializing with peers and the teacher, getting brave enough to participate in the class in front of lot of stranger, but not concentrating on education.

If what you said were true, It would still be valuable skill-building in dealing with new sets of people and new situations.

They don't spend the first 2-3 months of each year learning nothing new. Do you really think that? You're not doing child a favour by encouraging them to be overly dependent on the same adults and friendship circles. Not that friendships are all that static, anyway. Your head is about to start spinning with how blithely and quickly they chop and change friendship groups.

haggisaggis Wed 30-Jan-13 14:22:21

If you want the same teacher for more than one year you are really looking at very small schools with composite classes - which you also don't want. My dd is at a small school with 3 composite classes - P1/P2, P3/P4, P5/P6/P7. She is in the oldest class and will have her teacher for 3 years (which is great for us as dd loves her and she is a good teacher). Good teachers of composites know how to differentiate and teach appropriately to the various levels. When it comes to topic work for instance, the whole class may learn the same topic, but the various activities will be appropriate to teh different levels. Personally I like composites. Children learn to work well in mixed aged groups so learn from each other as well as the teacher. Also classes tend to be smaller..

Cat98 Wed 30-Jan-13 14:08:58

I could have written a very similar post, rrbrigi. My child is in reception, smaller than average, can be quite shy and influenced by others socially. But very bright - we have been told working 2 years above year R stuff for numeracy etc.
I too am worried about mixed classes next year, also sad that his current class will be split as they are a lovely group. I am wondering if I should have looked into class structures more when we chose a school. However I am really happy with the school so far and how they are handling things, so I am going to continue trying to have faith in them and only really worry about it if a problem arises. I am not sure pre empting is a good idea as you may be pleasanlty surprised.

rrbrigi Wed 30-Jan-13 13:16:55

I did not mean to hurt any teacher. I do trust them. I can see the difference what my son's teacher achieved with him since he started school. I also can see how much she helped my son to open up.

Panzee Wed 30-Jan-13 12:56:09

Sometimes we get jobs elsewhere and have babies too. shock Your child will be fine, most of them are. And the ones that won't be completely fine get extra help to cope.

In the nicest possible way: trust us, we know what we're doing. If you don't trust us, home school

Littlefish Wed 30-Jan-13 12:46:19

But you're not trying to find a solution. Lots of people on here have explained how the system works. You seem to be determined that it won't work for your child, without considering ways of making it work. Your child is going to face transitions throughout their life.

Have you visited other schools to see how they organise their classes? Some schools keep the same class together all the way through from Reception to Year 6, but others remix the children every year or every key stage. Add to this the fact that Teachers move year groups as well so you can't predict who will teach your child in subsequent years.

rrbrigi Wed 30-Jan-13 12:25:29

Sorry Littlefish that I am trying to find the best solution for my son. I apologize.

Littlefish Wed 30-Jan-13 12:10:30

"Basically it means for me that in the next 6 years for the first 2-3 months will be socialising with peers and the teacher" etc.

I'm sorry, but you're being silly. Are you seriously suggesting that your child will struggle with transitions in exactly the same way at 10 as he does at 4? Of course this is the case for some children with additional/special needs, but their parents constantly work with them to help them develop the skills needed to cope with transitions and changes. You seem to be expecting everyone else to change how they do things just so your ds is not upset in any way.

The only school system I know in the UK which has a policy and ethos of keeping children with the same teacher throughout their time at school is the Steiner system. However, I'm pretty confident you would find several things about that educational system you wouldn't like either!

I suggest you start talking to the school about ways to support your child to be able to cope better with transitions and ways of developing self-confidence.

50shadesofvomit Wed 30-Jan-13 12:00:09

I disagree that it's silly to have a new teacher every year- teachers might be crap at teaching/controlling behaviour, not get on with your child. Also teachers tend to specialise. Teaching Reception is obviously very different to Y6 - not only in terms of how you teach but also children are very different.

Most children are flexible and accept changes. Has your son never moved house, gone on holiday, met new people for the first time etc? Learning a new language is hard but a change in class doesn't stop him socialising with who he likes in the playground or after school. New classmates can be a very positive thing in terms of friendships. If you are negative about change then your son will pick up on this and be anxious too. Try not to worry.

My sons were very shy in KS1 but they were more confident by Y2. Being shy doesn't mean that there will be no education going on. If he is still shy in Y1/2 I am sure the teachers will try to help. My boys do not like talking to the teacher (they are Y7 and Y2) but their teachers had lots of strategies to get them to contribute and speak up.

lancaster Wed 30-Jan-13 11:42:30

I am also in Scotland and our primary school is full of composite classes. My observation seems to be that they put the most confident/independent P2s in with the P1s although all of the children are likely to be in a composite class at some point through the school.

rrbrigi Wed 30-Jan-13 11:39:13

Also I think it is a silly idea to have new teacher every year. When I asked my son teacher after the first half term about his developing, she told me they are still assessing the children. So does it mean that every year the children will lose 2 month from their education, because until the teacher won't asses the child how he or she knows the child ability and how he or she can put the child into the right level group?

My son is only 4.5. Of course he does not used to changes yet. And I think it is a lot to cope at this age. Cope with school hours (more than nursery hours); cope with language (because he is not English); cope with friendship (what he just started to managesmile) and suddenly in September the school will destroy it and put him together with new children. We will work again socializing, making friends, help him to speak in the class, etc…

Basically it means for me that in the next 6 years for the first 2-3 months will be socializing with peers and the teacher, getting brave enough to participate in the class in front of lot of stranger, but not concentrating on education.

Fuzzymum1 Wed 30-Jan-13 11:35:25

All classes at our school are mixed due to being a small rural school. We have 4 classes - R/1 1/2 3/4 and 4/5.

My youngest is in the 1/2 class and his teacher is brilliant - they all work on the same topic/subject but the work done is adapted to the ability level of the class - in his class there are Y2 children still learning to read and Y1 children reading chapter books - they are grouped by ability for almost everything.

I volunteer in the R/1 class and during the phonics session today the reception children were given simple CVC or CCVC words to spell using magnetic letters (with TA support) and the year 1 children were read words they had to write down. Whatever the age range in a class there will be a spread of ability and the teacher will set differentiated work for each group.

One year our year 5/6 class had children working at reception level and some working at y8 level - that was a challenge for the teacher but she coped and those children all made appropriate progress.

havingastress Wed 30-Jan-13 11:22:01

It really doesn't make any difference.

Technically, I teach Year 4. However, ability levels in the class range from a child who is reception level to a child who is performing at a decent Year 6 level.

I have to differentiate every lesson.

rrbrigi It's tough! But it can be done. If I'm honest, it's the less able children who miss out at this point, as they will tend to get more one-to-one in the lesson, so it's important for me that the needs of the brighter children are met on the carpet.

The joys of inclusion!

So long as you have a decent teacher, your child will be just fine.

lljkk Wed 30-Jan-13 11:18:59

Xpost: I think they take it in at the level they can understand, rrbrigi, and progress from there. Carpet time isn't overly long at such a young age, anyway.

Littlefish Wed 30-Jan-13 11:18:07

There are a few different issues here.

I think you need to work with your ds on managing changes in his life. He is going to meet changes in routine, friendships etc. on a regular basis and it is unrealistic to think that you are going to be able to avoid him having to go through those transitions. In almost every school, there is a new teacher every year. In schools with mixed age classes, you may get a teacher for 2 years or occasionally 3 years, if all the children in KS1, for instance are taught together.

If the school policy is to split the children by age into the mixed age classes, then it is highly unlikely that they will change the class your ds goes into just because you want him to be in a different class.

As long as he makes progress, it doesn't matter which class he is in as both classes will be differentiated to make sure that the teaching and learning matches the needs and abilities of the children in that class.

lljkk Wed 30-Jan-13 11:17:46

Academically it's never been an issue for DC, whether they were older or younger cohort in the mixed age group. High or low ability.

Socially was a problem with one of mine who was socially vulnerable, anyway, I found with older DC (yr4+) because the kids themselves get rigid ideas about who their social circle are; yr5s shut out yr4s etc. So being separated most of the time from most of his year group peers was unhelpful.

rrbrigi Wed 30-Jan-13 11:15:58

I understand you group them by their levels. But what about when you teach something to the whole class? In my son school they call it carpet time when everybody sits on the carpet and listen to the teacher.

Panzee Wed 30-Jan-13 11:04:40

Dead easy. You assess them, find out their levels and teach what they need to progress. They will be grouped according to their level and taught appropriately. I teach like this no matter what age is in my class.

DeWe Wed 30-Jan-13 11:00:29

But in your examples you could easily get that in a year group anyway, so need differentiation over the year.

I know dd2 was reading famous five in reception at a time when others were learning to read.

And ds was doing addition and subtraction from playing schools with dd1 and dd2 before he went to school.

But neither of them was expected to sit down and learn what a number 2 looked like, or how to sound out their abcs because the teacher knew they didn't need to. In phonics teaching it's grouped over years R to 2, to get them at the right level in our schools here anyway.

Same classmates can be fine if they're a lovely supportive class. But if there's a nasty one(s), they'll never get away. A lot of schools with more than one form entry they mix the classes up between years anyway.

NotInMyDay Wed 30-Jan-13 10:15:50

Hi I have a slightly different situation but there are parallels. DD is in P1 (Scotland) and is in a P1/2 composite class. Far more P2 children than P1. I had my concerns but actually it has been the making of her. She knew a fellow P1 before she started which as been great. The P2 children give her a lot of confidence.

As for teaching different 'levels' it was explained to me that classes are usually taught in groups anyway according to ability. Having the groups spread over 2 year groups does not impact the children. The teacher will have to be very organised as she juggles 2 curriculums but DD's class has the most senior lower school teacher and she is doing a great job. There is almost always a TA too.

A big positives for DD has been that she is exposed to P2 teaching and she seems to be soaking some of it up. For example she is getting very good at telling the time and her spelling is good.

There are a small number of P2 children who are not coping with the P2 work and seem to flit between the two Primary groups so I suppose this is good extra support for them.

I would be wary of moving schools. The grass is rarely greener on the other side.

Best of luck.

rrbrigi Wed 30-Jan-13 10:03:28

That is the question really. How you can teach a mixed class in KS1? E.g.: Reception and Year 1 together. For example, one child (from Reception) needs to learn how the number 2 looks like, how to sound out the abc or write the letter a and the other child should learn how much is 2+5 or learn the diagraphs (ai, sh, a-e, i-e, are, ce, etc) and learn how to write a tale (e.g.: beginning, middle and end). How can you approach it?

Why I am interested about it, because my son will go to a mixed class next year. He is in a straight Reception now, but next year they will split the class in two group by date of birth, the older one will go to a straight Year 1 and the younger one (where is my son) will go to a mixed Reception/Year1 class. There are two reasons why I am worried.
One of them is that he is a very sensitive child. He likes when everything is the same around him (people, environment, routine, etc?). He does not make friends so easily but he started to open up in this class in the last couple of weeks. If his class mates are changing he will become introverted and he won?t find his place in the new environment. Not to mention that they change the teacher every year as well. When he started school he did not like it, because everyone was new to him and he needed 3-4 month to get used to these people, and now he likes school, his class mates and his teacher. The first 2 months he does not even wanted to speak in the school.
The other reason why I am worried is his education. He is a bright child. In some areas he is ahead for 1 or 2 years. Why he should listen again what a teacher needs to teach for a Reception child next year?

Is there any way how I can ask the school to put my son into a straight class or a mixed class where he is in the lower level group (I mean if the class is Year1/Year2 I would like him to be in Year1 and not in Year 2)?

Anyway it is a lovely school, my son and I like his teacher too, but I just cannot stop thinking that this school was not the best for my son and I know next year he will have big problems if I cannot do anything.

I am thinking of moving him to another school where they have the same class mates through the 6 years and probably have the same teacher in KS1 and another teacher but the same for KS2. Do you think it is a good idea?

Thanks for your answers.

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