Multi-level Classrooms

Spring has brought change to the learning center. Due to tight budgets, a few teachers were relocated to different schools. Typically the learning center has four levels of morning classes, but now the classes have been condensed to three.

It was surprising to walk into the room and see a mixture of faces from what used to be both the level two and level three classes. Nearly every table and chair was filled, forcing me to squeeze through tiny aisles to correct papers. At first, I presumed that the learners would quickly become frustrated, as I thought they were at varying levels based on my previous work in both classrooms. However, as the class progressed, it was interesting to note how the multi-level dynamic played out.

Students were quick to explain things to each other, patiently assisting their partner. As I listened to students relay instructions to one another, I realized what good practice it was for them to utilize English in this manner. Additionally, when asked to do a different type of assignment than they were used to doing, some students surprised me with their ability or inability to complete the task. A few students that were strong in grammar for example, struggled to complete a vocabulary exercise.

It was illuminating to assess students' skills in this new environment. I was reminded of the common disparity between the skills of a learner, speaking and writing for example, depending on the strengths and experiences of that person.

While I am not advocating in favor of staff cuts nor diminishing the challenges of conducting multi-level classrooms, it was fascinating to watch how learners handled the situation. I was reminded of the resiliency and enduring positive attitude of adult immigrant and refugee students.

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