Don’t Ever Give Me One Grade Level: The Case for the Multi-Grade Classroom

“Education is understanding relationships.”

Who of you had a teacher that made all the difference in the world for you?  Most successful people had a teacher in their life that made an impact on them.  Why did that teacher make an impact?  Why were they any different than every other teacher?

Inevitably, the relationship that teacher was able to develop with that individual is at the heart of what made them special.  “They cared about me.”  “They took a special interest in my life.”  “They challenged me and pushed me further than I thought possible.”  Those are just a sampling of the responses I’ve heard throughout the years to that question.

First, a little background on me.  I teach in a small WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) school in Friendswood, Texas.  I teach grades 6-8.  I have taught other combinations such as grades 2-5 and 5-8.  I am also the principal of the school.  Now to many, this may sound like a crazy idea.  Its not.  I love my job, I love my calling.  God has blessed our school beyond measure, and has given me a lifetime of memories with the students whom I serve.

I love this job for one, very simple reason.  I am allowed to develop relationships with the students who are in my classroom.  I often hear from prospective parents to our school, “How do all of those grades in one classroom, work?”  The answer is simple.  We are family.  We can push students to whatever level they need to be.  I have 8th graders who have completed Algebra II or Advanced Literature simply because God gave them those talents, and we were able to move them at the level they needed to be moved.

The bigger concept of why it works comes down to what we started with.  Relationships are formed.  What better bond than having a students for three, four, five years at a time?  There is no going through that adjustment period year after year.  There is no having to learn how that individual student learns best year after year.  Through time together, you grow to know one another.

As this blog starts out, I intend to share those stories of relationships with you.  I also intend to share with you thoughts and musings from an imperfect teacher and principal.  I want this to be a community.  A community of educators and parents talking about and pushing one another for the benefit of one group…our students.

2 Comments on “Don’t Ever Give Me One Grade Level: The Case for the Multi-Grade Classroom

  1. My grandmother used to teach K-8 in a one-room school house, back in her early days of teaching. In later years she was a 3rd grade teacher, but she said the best teaching she ever did was in that one-room school house. She said if one student was more advanced in one subject it was so easy to move them up just for that subject. Or if one student needed more review, that student could help the teacher instruct some of the littler ones on a topic, and in the process they would get a more solid foundation on it themselves. She was a big believer in mixed grade classrooms.


  2. That is awesome, your grandmother sounds like an amazing teacher! Having such a large age difference in a classroom can truly facilitate a family atmosphere. Research also shows that the best way to learn is by explaining the concept yourself. Having those older kids buddy up and help “tutor” struggling students helps both ways. Thanks again for sharing!


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