Friday, March 15, 2013

Over-enrollment: Nipping Disaster in the Bud

by Linda Kline
Director of Education

I’ve been teaching PMC long enough to remember the “Good Old Days.” Back when silver was $17 per ounce, the economy was healthy and prosperous, and our classes were always full. Then the magic bubble burst, silver prices soared, the economy tanked, and we were beating the bushes to find enough students for our classes to even make.

This week, for the first time in many years, I was filled with a refreshing sense of optimism that things are looking up. Instead of just eking by with the minimum enrollment, I was faced with the opposite extreme. I walked into a classroom filled to over-capacity!  It sounds like a good problem to have, right? Experience, however, tells me it’s not so simple. 

There is a happy medium between too many and too few students to make a class a great experience for everyone…..including the teacher. I’ve learned the hard way that to try and accommodate a group that is too large is a formula for unhappy, disgruntled students and an over-extended, ragged-out teacher. What is the magic number of students per class? That depends on the resources. 

Based on the size of the classroom I could comfortably accommodate twelve students; there were eighteen registered. But there are other factors that are equally as important to consider such as accessibility to the kiln (no one is happy if their work isn’t getting fired), the tumbler, drying station, and other tools. And above all, do you have the financial resources to stock sufficient supplies? This can amount to floating a considerable capital outlay while you are waiting to recoup on your investment. 

In this case, I did something painful but it was what I thought necessary to keep my sanity and teaching integrity in tack. I told the group the truth. There were simply too many students and no one was going to have a positive experience. I encouraged them to register right then and there for the next session, five weeks away. Thankfully, five people voluntarily took that advice and my next class is already full!

We teachers are people pleasers and we’ll do just about anything to make our students happy, like squeezing just one more into an already full classroom. So the next time you’re faced with a decision to admit “just one more”, ask yourself, “Is it worth it to make one person happy at the risk of making the whole group miserable.”

Until next month,
Creative Blessings,

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