It is obvious that a combined class of students
differs a lot from the conventional type of a student class of
a single grade. That means that the way that the students of the
multigrade class should be taught must be different as well. It
is true that the function of the teacher in the multigrade classroom
is multidimensional or to be more accurate it is much more complicated
and demanding than the role of the teacher in the monograde school
This is the main subject of the MUSE project to assist teacher
professionals to be able to work effectively in the multigrade
school environment and be trained on teaching in the different
ways referring to the multigrade classroom. For children to learn
effectively in multigrade environments, teachers need to be well-trained,
well-resourced and hold positive attitudes to multigrade teaching.
Multigrade teaching in many views represents a more demanding
teaching situation and special attention should be given to it.
However, many teachers in multigrade environments are either untrained
or trained in monograde pedagogy; have few, teaching and learning
resources; and regard the multigrade classroom as a poor cousin
of the better-resourced monograde urban schools that are staffed
by trained teachers. In addition, at the majority of the cases,
the multigrade teachers are very young without significant experience,
"chosen" by the state to teach at the specific rural
areas. These teachers are left alone without resources and support
to handle the demanding multigrade classes. The former has serious
negative impact on teachers' psychology and attitude towards the
multigrade class, and affects in a negative way their teaching
The effort should be focused by the educational authorities to
reverse the teachers' negative view for multigrade teaching and
the rural school and provide them with the resources and support
to be able to overcome any difficulties. Teachers should attend
special training programmes before introduce themselves at the
multigrade classroom and try to adjust to their multidimensional
role as multigrade teachers. A training programme like the
MUSE project which represents an effort to address the specialised
needs of the multigrade school teachers ought first of all to
record and analyse the multiple role that these teachers possess
in the multigrade class. Below you can find a first attempt
to present the basic functions and roles of the teachers in rural
multigrade schools. The categorisation in the different roles
presented here are based on similar former research activities,
training attempts and documentation found in the literature so
are more or less well accepted by the wider educational community.
These common functions which multigrade teachers must carry out
in their schools are as follows:
The main function of the multigrade teacher is to teach students
by imparting knowledge not just follow a curriculum. Teacher must
be able to develop skills and inculcate desirable values and attitudes
among pupils. The teacher is expected to be versatile and utilize
different strategies to make learning meaningful and effective
for all students in his or her classroom, no matter what individual
differences may exist among the students. In the following section
of this web training content you will be able to get informed
more specifically on teaching and learning strategies referring
to the multigrade setting.
The teacher should be able to understand differences between pupils,
be able to motivate them to learn and guide them though their
learning materials. The teacher should be able to do this for
all grade levels in the classroom, no matter what curriculum subject
is being studied. The teacher should not only be a provider of
knowledge but should also be a facilitator of learning both
at a group level and on a one-to-one basis.
As a planner
Planning is a critical function for the Multigrade teacher. Appropriate
planning by the teacher will result in classes which are more
productive for the learners and easier for them to follow. Planning
in the multigrade school classroom is much more important that
in a monograde one. The teaching hour must be spent productively
for student groups in grades of the class and thus accuracy on
time spending is crucial.
Suggestions for activities of a good planner.
For each grade level for which you as multigrade teachers are
responsible you must determine the answers to the following questions:
Whom do I teach?
What must I teach?
How do I teach?
When do I teach?
Why do I teach this?
Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you
must then devise an implementation plan in order to achieve the
objectives of the lesson for each grade. Such implementation strategies
include lesson planning, selection of week activities, time- tabling.
All these must be carried out before the actual lesson is given.
Try the above in one of your teaching hours. Try to determine
a working model for your case based on the above suggestions.
Feel free to add or remove questions from this list taking into
account the special educational conditions of your professional
Another role which the multigrade teacher must carry out is to
monitor the progress of pupil's learning so as to ensure quality
Therefore, assessment should be considering a continuous and integral
part of the teaching process. Usually, this requires teachers
to determine the educational levels of pupils when they first
enter schooling, during the school year and at the end of each
school year. Therefore, assessment should be considered a continuous
and integral part of the teaching process.
Types of Assessment:
Entrance tests are usually conducted at the beginning of the schooling
process and for new student entries at the class. The purpose
of these entrance tests is to determine exactly the educational
level of each pupil is. It is as a result of these tests that
each pupil can enter or resume his or her studies at the appropriate
grade level. More importantly, test results will assist the teacher
to identify the particular stage within each grade that individual
pupils have attained and therefore help the teacher to provide
appropriate individual instruction. Test results may also help
to persuade the teacher that the initial allocation of students
to grade groups should be altered.
Regular assessment is carried out for the same purposes as those
described above but is administered routinely through the school
year. Such assessment may be carried out daily, weekly or monthly.
The frequency of such testing will be determined by the purpose
for which it was designed for.
Periodic assessment is often used for specific purposes, such
as determining if students have understood a particular topic
which has just been completed. Means of assessment include: short
tests, topic tests and the use of homework.
Self-assessment and Peer-assessment
It is often possible to ask pupils to assess their own work or
the work of their peer group. Alternatively, older students may
help the teacher to assess the work of younger pupils. It is often
the case the student workbooks are designed for these types of
Suggestions for activities for evaluation
and assessment. Try to think of ways that you can develop assessment
tools for every one of the above categories. Especially focus
on self evaluation and the development of entrance tests.
As Materials Designer
Although various curriculum materials are usually prepared by
national educational authorities, multigrade teachers still need
to develop their own additional materials. These additional materials
serve the purpose of meeting actual and concrete needs of Multigrade
teaching within the local context. You should also try to make
the national curriculum more relevant to the local needs of the
community. Examples of such curriculum materials include the following:
- designing and making small boards, flash cards, etc. to save
time in the classroom and to maximize the time which pupils
spend on learning tasks
- using local materials to develop instructional materials and
to encourage students to make their own
- designing workbooks which are suitable for student use within
the local context and conditions
- including within these locally designed materials and workbooks
activities and knowledge which are relevant to the local culture
As Action Researcher
Teachers are not usually trained to be educational researchers,
since their main task is to teach. However, it is through research
that improvements in teaching take place. In schools where access
to other resources is easily available, it is not as critical
that individual teachers be researchers since they can easily
seek the advice of more experienced educators. However, in Multigrade
Teaching schools this advice and resource is not as easily and
readily available. Therefore, the Multigrade teacher must also
be a researcher, that is, a person who asks questions in order
to understand better certain phenomenon. Such research questions
owhat makes instructional materials and aids useful in teaching
and learning in the local context?
- how can the enrolment rate be increased and the drop-out rate
- what types of games and sports should be played in the school?
- what useful extra-curricular activities can be arranged and
- why certain students are not learning as well as might be
- how to use local resources, including students and monitors,
efficiently and effectively?
- what classroom strategies and management enhance learning
for different activities?
It is not an expectation that the multigrade teacher become an
expert in research methods but, rather, is able to formulate appropriate
questions in the classroom setting, seek and obtain the information
necessary to answer these questions and be able to put into action
those changes which are necessary - all of which is caught up
in the term "Action Research". In summary, the teacher
must always have an enquiring and evaluating mind.
As Contact with the Community
In many situations, multigrade teachers, because of their training
and position, assume an important position in the local community.
This is the case, not only in the eyes of the pupils, but also
from the parents' perspective. Thus, the multigrade teacher is
the critical link between the school and its community. The nature
of many situations where a multigrade school exists is such that
the co-operation and assistance of the local community is needed
to improve the quality of educational services that Multigrade
Teaching schools provide. This may include community involvement
in such diverse activities as building and maintaining classrooms,
assisting in the preparation of curriculum teaching aids and acting
as a paraprofessional teacher.