Teachers who use small-group instruction strategies work with a few learners—usually two to four at a time—on specific concepts and objectives. The reduced student-teacher ratio allows educators to connect with individual students, reinforce concepts and assess comprehension.
Small-group instruction usually follows whole-group instruction and, when done well, can provide several benefits to students. Learn more about the advantages as well as small-group instruction strategies you can implement in your classroom.
Benefits of small-group instruction
- Individualized learning: Small-group instruction allows teachers to evaluate students’ learning strengths and tailor lessons to them. For instance, teachers may break down concepts not easily understood or breeze though lessons that students firmly grasp.
- Confidence: Some students struggle to participate in front of the entire class. The one-on-one attention they receive from small-group instruction activities can boost the confidence of students who may otherwise have a hard time joining the conversation the joining the conversation.
- Opportunity for feedback: Small-group instruction is ideal for providing frequent and personalized feedback. There is more time for students to ask questions, and it promotes feedback that goes far beyond a simple letter grade.
- Collaboration: Small-group instruction activities encourage teamwork, inclusivity and collaboration. Students no longer blend into the background of a large classroom—small-group instruction means everyone participates and is working toward the same goal.
Success tips for implementing small-group instruction strategies
To implement small-group instruction strategies in your classroom, set clear expectations, master time management and use all available resources.
Outline expectations for the work that must be completed, including when it’s due, which materials will be required and how students can request additional help, if needed. While small-group instruction is in session, the rest of the class will need to work independently. Provide guidance and activities so students continue to engage in learning. Reward self-starters and those who manage their time well with fun pencils and erasers, locker frames or phone stand/stylus pens.
Don’t forget to use all available resources, too. Are parents or local volunteers available for small group reading sessions? Or are they able to read to the rest of the class while you work with your small group? Reach out to moms and dads, businesses, universities and more. And don’t forget to thank volunteers. A logo’d candy jar accompanied by a handwritten thank-you note is a great way to show gratitude.
Small-group instruction is an excellent way to instill a love of learning in your students. Give it a try in your classroom!