40 Students is Too Many

Marcia Andrew-Camacho, Social Studies Teacher from Forest Grove, OR

I have been a public school teacher for 24 years, 16 of those here in Oregon! I have five classes of US History this year and four of those have more than 34 students. Two classes have 40 students.

When there are so many students in my classes, it is impossible for me to build strong relationships with each of them. In my experience, those relationships are the key to academic success. Without that piece, the students suffer.

I can’t know what my students need in order to grow and learn if I don’t have daily insight into their work. I teach students who lack confidence because they haven’t been told that they matter or how to improve. Their teachers can scarcely interact with them one on one because they sit in a classroom with 39 other students.

When I first came to Oregon, I taught 4th grade and had much smaller classes. I was recently contacted by a former student, now in her early 20s. She asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her because she is applying for a scholarship to the School of Social Work at PSU.

She told me that I was the first teacher that she thought of. I was floored — I taught her when she was 10 years old! We had a very close relationship — I knew her, knew her family, knew her potential and believe in her. I want to be able to provide that level of close support for ALL my students.

Marcia Andrew-Camacho is a middle school social studies teacher in Forest Grove, Oregon.

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