When I was first asked what my idea of multigrade education was, my response was “I believe that multigrade education is about the different approaches and dynamics in pedagogy and learning methodology of learners in different levels.” Yes the answer has the point but not quite, it didn’t bring out the essence and distinction of multigrade class over monograde class, but again that was just my rough idea before the onset of this course.
Now, after almost finishing the rest of the course, I can now define multigrade class as a classroom wherein students with varying and contrasting demography (age, residences, date of birth, etc.), talents and abilities, and academic level are combined together in one section and learning altogether under one curriculum. The factors and reasons that lead to the creation of multigrade class are indicated below but are not limited to the following;
- Scarcity of learning materials and resources such as classroom and textbooks
- Lack of qualified and trained teachers
- Deficiency in the numbers of classroom or classroom is very far from learners’ home
- Community involvement and choice to promote collaborative and integrative learning
- Pedagogic reason or a reform in the education system
- Economically or politically driven
Since there is an apparent diversity in the learners, the role of the teacher is being challenged and he or she must be flexible and able to perform different classroom functions;
- As Teacher:
This is the core duties of a classroom educator; to teach students by imparting society and life relevant knowledge, to develop skills and inculcate positive values, promote appropriate attitude and behaviour and encourage holistic growth in home and in classroom (cognitive and affective).
The teacher should be able to provide the most appropriate teaching style either one-on-one or via group to ensure optimal learning of the majority. The teacher as facilitator should be able to observe and analyze the diversity of his or her class and use their interests to keep everyone motivated and cooperative to each and everyone.
Knowing what drives them and what pushes the students, the teacher as a planner should use his or her knowledge to create learning materials and lesson plans that spark everyone’s thinking thereby making them involved and feel welcomed.
To truly gauge and measure the teacher’s success and the student’s growth, the teacher as evaluator should conduct regular formative and summative methodologies to determine if the class is going in the right direction. The results should be able to inform the teacher what particular area of competence or area of development should be given more priority and focus. The teacher can do self-assessment (can also apply to himself or herself), peer-assessment, regular assessment, periodic, and final assessment.
- Link between home, school, and community
For me, this is one of the best roles a teacher can portray in the class. The home and school are the initial places where a child will learn and develop his or her values, behaviour and attitude, hence, it is important that appropriate intervention are being applied to ensure the sound and positive growth and development of the child. In line with this, learning the “good things” in school aren’t enough, to be a true active member of the society, one must contribute to its progress by being part of the solution. The teacher should encourage his or her students to share and practice the knowledge that they have to other so they can make a difference.
Multigrade class along with other forms of education (including non-formal education and alternative learning systems) are actually providing access and opportunity to those people who wish to finish their educational journey either for personal or professional growth. I also learned that difference in age and maturity is actually not a problem all the time, in some of the studies that I read before, most of the students establish close relationship with their peers despite disparity in age, in here, e can say that that differences actually add spice and different angle in the class making it more interesting and exciting. Third, teacher should undergo trainings before they can run a multigrade class since multigrade class has multidimensional needs compared from monograde – teacher should undergo cultural and diversity training, one-on-one and group level coaching, and multigrade instructional planning and designing to name a few. Furthermore, to make the students proactive in their community, the teacher should make his or her classroom as a “professional learning community” where everyone are being given with fair opportunity to express themselves in their own way so everyone will learn from one another. Last, I can see multigrade class as one of the Philippine’s promising solutions against the problems (some were mentioned above) of our education system because of its cost-effectiveness, viability, and flexibility.