Teaching With A Tiny Class

I only have 6 students right now which is just enough to be annoyed at them but not so many that I can fully justify how frustrating they can be. I don’t meet with them as a group often because they’ve all got weird schedules and I’m a reclusive cave person. I see them individually or I work with them online, and like a psychotic taxi driver, it’s driving me insane.

I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that you volunteer to read these awful jokes
Pets: you’ll love them forever even though they’re a burden

There were times during the semester in which I would have gladly doused myself in oil and hugged an electric fence. Sometimes, I just stood outside my classroom door for a few extra seconds before going in and seeing all those needy faces. I always loved teaching, but it’s a lot like having a young pet: you love them, they’re adorable and need you, but you also find yourself wondering why they’ve peed on the rug and what unique form of Stockholm syndrome you’ve developed to still love them after absorbing every other part of your life.

I miss them. I’m so bored with this tiny group. They’re nice, and they tend to do their work decently, but the ratio of needs to rewards is so skewed that I spend more time fixing their minor mess-ups than I do feeling decent about what (I hope) they’ve learned. I don’t feel as much like a teacher anymore because I never really see them as a group so I never get to run lessons or make them do the weird–but useful–things I normally have my classes do. I’m more of a consultant than anything, and consulting is boring. I’ve had the same conversation about independent clauses six times, and the only people that want to talk about independent clauses are people studying linguistics and Santa, who feels like he’s become trapped by the whole “Christmas” gig.

Get it? He wants to be free, he wants to be an independent Clause. Please laugh at my jokes. They’re all I have

The most frustrating thing about this group is their utter disdain for me and the work I have them do. I had a student pull her phone out and play music while I was talking to her. I feel like I should be allowed a big foam pool noodle so I can smack students when they do something like that. I can’t romanticize my normal classes and say they adore writing, but they do like each other, and I use that to get them to enjoy working. When I have the entire group captive, they don’t need to love writing because I can just make them work together on something fun and trick them into liking writing. None of my sneaky stuff works with this tiny group, and without my tricks, I’m just some nerd in a tiny windowless office making them write and getting a little too enthusiastic about “writing with clarity and vigor.”

I have 4 more weeks of these students. It’s always obvious to me how tired I am of a semester or class when I begin counting the weeks I have left with them. This is a 10-week job, and I’ve already been counting for 6 weeks. I have 4 weeks left to find a way to finagle writing into the hearts of these students, and I have severe doubts that it’ll work, but I’ve got nothing else to do so I may as well obsess over it. Any suggestions for functional hypnosis or non-addictive drug that leave a person open to suggestion would be most welcome because I need all the help I can get to make them tolerate me and writing.

16 Replies to “Teaching With A Tiny Class”

  1. It’s crazy to think that the smaller class size is actually tougher to deal with! As a student, one always thinks it’s better to have a smaller class size because you’ll get more individual attention. That said, it looks like you also get more of the consulting feel. Definitely do the same thing when times get rough: I start counting down how long until something happens. Makes it seem less like “you’re stuck doing this forever!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have no advice, but you have my sincere admiration for choosing to teach. I thought I wanted to teach when I was in high school, so I did an independent study senior year that involved teaching sixth graders how to write poetry. The group I had were all really good kids and we had fun, but I got SO bloody sick of hearing my own voice that, by the end of the study, I was pretty well cured of wanting to be a teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like having small classes when I get to meet with them all as a class. I only get to see this group individually, and it has definitely influenced how they see me and how they view their work. I wish I could get them all together. That sounds fun

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It has been really fun with other groups before. Something about this group is just bringing it down. I think I like being a teacher more. Maybe that’s because I’ve been a student for so long and would love a break.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My smallest class ever was my 5th hour last school year. On the first day, I was thrilled. I could do more creatively with them; intimate discussions, etc. Wrong. They turned out to be my toughest class. Mostly girls with boy problems and screeching at any ant that crawled across the floor. It was so strange to have 3 classes of 27 that I barely had to manage and then this small bunch of terrors with zero attention span!

    I’ve just left teaching after 10 years. It’s bittersweet for sure. Fyi, your Santa joke is on point. I did laugh 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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