Monday, March 2, 2009

A minute in a teacher's shoes

In honor of the birthday of the late great Theodor Geisel (known to millions as Dr. Seuss), I took a turn in front of a Jacobson School first-grade class today as a special guest reader.

Topping the reading list was "I Can Read with My Eyes Shut," a Seuss tale, and a couple other class favorites. I think I went through them a little fast, but man, the kids were loving it anyway. And a lot of them said they loved to read — guess there's hope for literacy and newspapers after all.

Walking out after about 20 minutes in front of the class, though, I was left with one overwhelming thought: The people who want to increase class sizes should be forced to teach those larger classes.

There were only about 20 kids in my class, and they were all pretty well behaved. Good, bright students, from all I could gather in the few minutes I was there. But they're also first-graders. Read them a story, do an activity, and they'll want to talk and play.

The teacher that day, Ms. Nikki, was a substitute, and she did a great job handling the kids. But it's a full-time job keeping children in line and getting them to learn. (And from what I remember of school, it's an even more challenging task for high school teachers.)

Increasing class sizes, which the school budget cuts make all but mandatory, will make it more difficult for teachers to rein in their students and give them the attention that they need.

It only took 20 minutes for me to understand this. Before deciding on future cuts to education, policy-makers might want to take a similar field trip.

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