Getting Ready to Teach a Split Grade Classroom

Ok, don’t freak out!!Recently I was interviewed on the Bully Brave podcast and they asked me all about teaching from classroom management, to inquiry, to teaching a split.

So what was my advice for teaching a split grade…. Don’t freak out!

It’s true we talk ourselves into this overwhelm that a split grade is an insurmountable task, a punishment that we must subject ourselves to every few years when it is our turn.

But really we avoid it like the plague if we can. But just because you have a split doesn’t mean that it has to be hard….Don’t freak out!

This year I will be in year 7 of a split grade classroom. (!!! Yes year 7 !!!)

If you have also been following along with my journey you would also know that over the last 7 years I have had 3 children. (and this blog and a TPT store {{ insert link here }} lol

I can’t afford to have a split consume my life or add additional work to my life. I will be in a split grade for the foreseeable future at my current school. So I have to adapt to this reality and develop strategies that will help me to cope and manage. Because just like everyone else…I want to be home with my family and be able to turn off ‘teacher me’ once I get home.

So I promise you there is no special cape, I just need systems in place that help me get it all done. You can be a rock star teacher in a split without giving up all of your free time for the year.


Here are a few systems, rules, and routines that I follow to make this manageable:

Time on Task

Starting day one and for every day after that curriculum has to be the focus. This starts with your schedule. All instructional time is important and should be countable to reportable subjects. This means that prep coverage time needs to be reportable by the other teacher and take a task off of your plate.

Advocate for yourself now. You have the split, in reality, you are doing more work and you need more time to do this. When your students are in un-reportable time this means that you now have to fit it all in in a shorter period of time.

Talk to your principal and prep coverage teachers about this. This also means that you need to choose carefully what extra things you do. Trips, excursions, or other things like freedom Friday need to be done sparingly if they are not directly related to the curriculum.


Teach all of your own core subjects. This sounds counter-intuitive but when you do this you actually have so much more flexibility in what you do.

If you need to instruct your one grade in science while the other group is silent reading or writing then you have the freedom to do this when you teach all of your own core subjects. This includes math, science, social studies, and language.

Try not to give away these core subjects to a coverage teacher even though it is tempting.

Instead see if you can split your class and have one group go to a prep teacher for arts, French, gym, while the other stays back and vice versa.

Look at the Big Picture

Sometimes we think of teaching like unpacking boxes.

Each new unit is a new box that we need to unpack and give to our students. So when we teach a split we now expect that we have double the boxes to unpack. WE DON”T!!!

We have the same number of boxes as every other teacher it is just that there may be more in each box. Look for the big ideas and the differences between the two grades. Both grades will need to write stories so back up and teach the big ideas of how to write a story then alter your expectations for each grade.  Learn more about how I structure my language arts program here and here

Use Guided Instruction and Conferencing

Teach the whole group less and instead focus on individualized instruction through conferencing. This can be done in language and in using guided math. Work with students to improve their writing by having conferences where you provide feedback on what they need to work on. You can read more about how to structure your language program in these blog posts here and here. Additionally, guided math centers can provide a great way to teach specific concepts that need a more individualized approach.

Stay On Top of Assessment

When you assess your students along the way you can better respond to their needs as a class. You can speed up or slow down and repeat as needed.

You can group and regroup students in a way that they can learn from each other. Get to know your students and their progress and struggles and stay on top of recording this in your grade book.

Planning and Timelines

We make our long-range plans but do we stick to them?? This is a struggle for all of us…hello, April/May/June rush time.

You have to be strict and follow your schedule in your long-range plans.

If you get off track using your flexibility to pull time or use cross integration from other subjects is helpful. Follow a detailed long-range plan to help keep you on track so that you can get everything done. After 6 years in junior,

I have been able to structure my plans in a way that means I can easily get everything taught in the time frame, and it is yours for free.

You don’t need to freak out just because you have been assigned a split. Start with a strong plan to get yourself started on the right foot. To get access to these proven tried and tested long-range plans you can get them here.


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