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The Singular, Unique Challenge of Group Teaching

by Katie Condon Condon.Katie@MacPhail.org

Many years ago, on my first day teaching general music, I told a group of kindergarteners to raise their hands if they had something to say. Immediately, a hand shot up and a little girl said, “I have a brother”.  Hand after hand went up, each child wanting to volunteer information about their brother, their birthday, their pet’s birthday, and so on. It took us a good ten minutes to get to the task at hand: making music.
It was at this moment that I realized that group teaching was completely different than teaching one-on-one. And pretty much every day I’ve spent in the classroom since then has reinforced this view.

In the kindergarten classroom, I set myself up for what happened by the way I used language. I’ve since learned there are many other ways-more effective ways-to establish procedures and get right to business. Since that fateful day, I’ve spent many hours reflecting on the differences between group and individual teaching. I’d be very curious to hear others’ experience. What is the toughest part of group teaching for you? What accommodations have you made to your content, delivery, and overall to teaching.

Comments, please!



                   By Marlith (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ha! Those kindergarten non sequitur experiences are great. It always makes me laugh when I call on a kiddo, thinking they have a question related to class, only to be told, "Ms. G, my birthday is in April!"

To go off what David said, I think the toughest part of group instruction is the constant "assess, then adapt" going through my brain as I teach. It's rare that my classes ever go exactly as I have them written. Adding 30 distinct personalities sure can through a wrench in the best laid plans!


The strangest thing for me when I began teaching was how it felt like you were performing for a solid 45 minutes. During planning, I would imagine that certain sections of the lesson would just run themselves, but then when you get in front of the students they just fall flat.