Our seventh graders take 12 weeks of keyboarding, music, and art. In 8th
grade however, art is an elective. If a student has band or chorus, there is no
place in his or her schedule for art. So, by 8th grade, band has already
drained a lot of the available kids. The choir is not very large.
Now, a problem in our school is that there are about five teachers who take
classroom "aides" every period. One teacher takes about 4-5 kids each period
to "hang out" in her room--the kids say it is fun...they admit they get to run
the halls, play on the computer, and drink pop which the teacher buys for them
from the lounge. It is hard to compete with that. In other situations, the
gym aides get an extra period of gym and the computer room aides (also around
4-5 per period) get an extra period on the internet.
A lot of kids sign up for study hall for 8th grade and then write on the
paper that they want to be an aide for Mrs. X or Mr. G.
I did tell the computer teacher once that having so many aides really drains
the potential enrollment for both choir and art. His response, more or less,
was that if choir and art were to offer something better/more interesting/more
enticing, the kids would then choose our classes over aiding.
For me, it is hurtful (after 26 years!) to see a kid do great work in seventh
grade and really grow artistically and then sign up for study hall or
"aiding." One thing I did last year was open the 8th grade class up to seventh
graders who also had study halls--therefore, they were getting an extra class of
art as this was in addition to their required 12 weeks. That worked out fine
and both grades seemed to like being together. The seventh graders seemed proud
to say that they were in "special" art and many of them will be back in the
8th grade class this year.
Personally, I agree with the person who said be happy with small classes.
You can get a lot more done!
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering why our principal has never
limited the number of aides a teacher can have, she won't. She sees it as a great
opportunity for student and teacher "bonding."