Small group instruction refers to teaching concepts, information, and learning strategies to a small group of students. Having fewer students allows the teacher to share a deeper level of opportunity with students across different skill levels. Some of these students may struggle with different learning problems.
Benefits of Small Group Instruction
Teaching students in small groups allows the teacher to give each student more individual attention. This benefits especially those who are struggling in bigger classes. It gives them a better chance of catching up with the rest of the group.
A teacher with a smaller class can give a better formative assessment of where a student is. The teacher can give each student the time they need to ensure that all students understand a lesson and develop the skills they need to develop and enhance their knowledge.
Small groups allow us to focus on teaching in a setting that allows the students a high degree of participation. They can ask questions. The teacher can complete detailed assessments and develop powerful and meaningful classroom activities.
Small group learning is an effective means of direct instruction. These instructions allow the teacher to provide learning opportunities for their students that are targeted towards each student’s needs. Whether it means we need to support students who have struggled with reading comprehension or those who may need a bit more practice with math to understand a new concept fully.
There are many varied benefits of small group instruction. The most important one may be to give students the one-on-one attention they need to stay with the class. The teacher can customize lessons to the unique needs of each class.
Other benefits of small group instruction include:
- The improvement of peer relationships through positive interaction with classmates
- Improve learning outcomes for all students
- The flexibility of the speed at which subjects are taught
- Allows students to engage with peers and teachers in a more intimate fashion
How to Effectively Plan for Small Group Instruction
It takes time and effort to create solid, well-designed small group instruction plans. Like with any form of teaching, it isn’t something you go into without a plan. One of the great things about small class instruction is that you can work with students individually, based on their needs, so it is vital to consider this when making your gameplan.
What follows are some key tips for how to plan for small group instruction effectively.
Plan for One-on-One Time
One of the biggest problems teachers face with group instruction is how to help students who aren’t keeping up with the rest of the class. When you are teaching large groups of students, making sure each gets the attention they need is almost impossible. But with the use of small group instruction, you can give students the attention they need to thrive.
Plan on providing time, each day if possible, to students who are struggling with the current lessons. Not all students can learn at the same rate as the rest of the group. Having time already carved out for them in your planning will help ensure that all students get the extra focus they need.
Group Students By Comprehension Level
Even if you are teaching a large class, breaking up the class into smaller groups based on ability and where they are when it comes to comprehension can make it easier to ensure that each student gets what they need to fully understand the lesson. When you subgroup studentss based on where they are, you can tailor small lessons for that group based on that ability.
Keep Lessons Short
Suppose the idea is to prepare your students with group instruction for learning the skills or concepts on their own. You don’t want to spend the entire class period droning away in front of the class. You want to give them the basics of the lesson, and then let the students work independently, use small group activities, work out problems,s or finish lessons. By keeping lectures brief, students don’t get fatigued and it gives the teacher more time to work with students individually, or as a whole group, on areas where they are struggling.
How to Improve Small Group Instruction for the Whole Group
Students need different things, whether in grade school or high school, and teachers want to create as many opportunities for them to succeed. This is why teachers are constantly looking for new ways they can teach lessons with better results for their students, whether they are getting direct instruction tips from other teachers or browsing forums online for ideas about how to give what students need to thrive. Teachers themselves are always learning so as to be better for their students.
There are a few ways that teachers can improve small group instruction that has been proven to be effective and helps the students get the most out of direct instruction.
Listen to Your Students and Offer Options Based on Their Needs
Direct instruction is not the only way to teach students, and assessing what students know and where they are in their understanding is incredibly useful. This is often as simple as asking students questions to see how comfortable they are with the material and where they might be having issues.
Gathering information about your students will help you guide your future lesson planning and give you more choices in presenting content to students at different levels of ability and understanding.
It is also helpful to involve students in the learning process more directly, so they feel like they are part of the process and not just lectured.
One helpful example could be offering an optional one-on-one time. Students who need extra help can continue with their lessons at their own pace in private tuition.
Be Flexible in Your Methods of Instruction
Not all students learn the same way, and not all classes will benefit from the same type of lecturing style. As a teacher, especially with the benefit of small group instruction, it is beneficial to be flexible in your teaching methods.
Understanding that you have a class full of students who learn better through visual teaching than verbal lessons will alter how you present topics to your students. This ability to tailor your teaching style to the needs of each class and each student will give them a better chance to excel at learning. Perhaps your students would benefit from lessons designed to feel more like games or do better with small group activities. Whatever the case may be, you can tailor your small group instruction to each class’s individual needs and even each child.
You might even consider letting students get directly involved in lessons themselves. Say one of the students is well ahead of the rest of the class. Leverage that achievement and have that student hold a lesson or presentation on their own. Not only does this give the advanced student the ability to help others, but it also provides the class with a different form of learning as well.
Teachers have great responsibility for the learning and education of tomorrow’s workers and leaders. School is the place where kids learn responsibility. Here they learn how to partake in a group activity, and we give them the skills and knowledge they need to make it in the real world.
Sadly, small group instruction is not possible in a lot of school districts. Most schools don’t have the budget or the resources for a small group environment. For those who are lucky enough to work with a small group of kids, take advantage of this. Use the added time to give your students the individual instruction they need to meet their goals best.
Small group instruction is an excellent way for a teacher to ensure that every student has access to the information, materials, and help they need to thrive and achieve the highest possible success level.
When you plan a lesson, keep the small group in mind. Think of a unique way to give your students the best possible education. Take the time to give each student or group the time and instruction they need. Some students need more time to understand a topic or concept fully. This will not only help to instill a love for learning, it will leave them better prepared for further education and the world beyond the classroom.