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We Believe: In Small Class Sizes

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

At Blacksburg New School, we believe in small class sizes. BNS class size is just 14 students per class, with one classroom per grade level. Occasionally, the board will consider a 15th student in a class, a special occurrence made with a lot of reflection on the cohort in mind. Therefore, most BNS classrooms are capped at 14 students for each homeroom teacher, in addition to all the other “rainbow” teachers the students will see during their day.


With just 14 students in a classroom, teachers and students develop strong and meaningful relationships. In a smaller environment, students are more likely to share about their families, pets, vacation, hobbies, hopes, dreams, and worries. These conversations increase students’ confidence and reassure them personally, making students more likely to seek help from trusted adults. In addition, teachers are able to learn each student’s strengths and challengesweaknesses, how their minds work, and how to help them produce to the best of their abilities.


kids in a classroom working with shapes

In the local public school system, classrooms have reached up to 29 students, and there are over 300 students per grade level. We recognize that there are some benefits to having a large peer group, with the opportunity for more extracurriculars due to a greater number of individual teachers and positions. However, these are things we are willing to sacrifice at BNS in exchange for what we view to be the most important parts of our curriculum - more differentiated instruction and strong relationships.


Studies have shown the value of having small class sizes in education. Research has shown that reducing class sizes from 22 students to 15 provided students the equivalent of three months of extra education over four years for those in smaller classes (1). Other studies showed that smaller class sizes lead to an increase in active interaction with teachers, who are able to focus more attention on individual students (2).


At BNS, students do not have the opportunity to hide and get left behind. Teachers have the opportunity to help students who are struggling, provide advanced students with more opportunities for learning, and encourage the middle of the road students to push themselves. In larger settings, students in the middle, who are mostly doing the work and not causing problems, often do not get the attention they deserve. Teachers at Blacksburg New School have the time and energy to address the needs of each and every student in their classes.


Teachers are able to meet students where they are, challenge them academically, and encourage them to be the best they can be. At BNS, we are able to provide more direct attention and instruction than would be possible were there twice as many students in the classroom. Teachers notice when students tune out, are distracted, or are not understanding. We spot when students are mastering material quickly and need more advanced learning opportunities. We see where remediation is needed in order for mastery to fully take place.



Behavior issues are more readily addressed in a smaller setting. Instead of having time to focus only on the most egregious issues, teachers can focus on all of the current concerns. Class meetings are held regularly in grade levels to discuss topics as they emerge. Teachers are able to make time for gatherings and individual one-on-one meetings to address other concerns as they arise. Teachers with large class sizes often have to focus their time toward defusing major issues, at a significant detriment to instructional time. However, at Blacksburg New School, most student issues are able to be talked through in the moment during class with minimal disruption to learning.


Small class sizes, and our smaller school size allow teachers to do what they do best - to teach. Teachers are able to help students find out who they are, and help them develop into who they can be. Blacksburg New School believes in small class sizes, which is the foundation that allows us to focus on what matters most - our students.



References:

(1) https://edsource.org/wp-content/uploads/old/STAR.pdf


(2) https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/southeast/aar/u_03-2019.asp



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At BNS, we believe in quality over quantity. With just 14 students per class, our teachers can create strong connections and provide personalized attention. Research shows that small class sizes lead to better academic outcomes and increased interaction with teachers. Join us and experience the difference! #QualityEducation #EffectiveTeaching #StudentTeacherBond



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