Today I was chatting with my mom and she asked how many more students I could manage in my classroom. Good question. I have 25-30 students in each of my classes. Compared to class sizes for some of the teachers I know this isn't too bad. Yet even this reasonable class size doesn't allow for as much individual attention as many students need.
Most class periods are composed of portions where I am talking to the group as a class, and periods where I am talking to small groups or individuals. During the whole-class periods I could handle twice as many students if there were some behavioral standards in place. During the more individualized periods, 25-30 is too many. One inefficiency of the school system is that I always have the same number of students in my room regardless of the type of instruction that is going on.
So, consider two schools. In the traditional school there are 1,800 students and 60 teachers. Each teacher has 30 students at all times. In the alternative school there are also 1,800 students and 60 teachers. At any given time, 20 teachers have 60 students each and 40 teachers have 15 students.
At any given time, 1200 students are in large classes and 600 students are in small classes. This means that students would spend twice as much time in large classes as in small classes, but their small classes would be small enough to give them a significant amount of individual attention. Teachers, on the other hand, would spend twice as much time in small classes.
Each core class could be divided into a large group period and a small group period so that students get more individual attention in math, reading, etc. What do you think?