Tuesday night was the final workshop of the three-part Caught in the Act series that I've been leading at 826DC. I played trombone in high school band, and I remember the teacher telling us that the most challenging pieces weren't the flashy allegro fortissimo showpieces (however much we enjoyed them) but rather the lento piano passages--unassuming, soft and slow, but deceptively difficult because they exposed your playing to a high level of scrutiny and vulnerability.
I think something similar applies to large vs. small workshops. When students far outnumber TAs, your work is cut out for you: keep circulating, keep the students on task, give as much attention to each as you can, and try to get through the whole class plan in the allotted time.
Teaching a very small workshop presented its own set of challenges: with everyone getting one-on-one attention, I worried the students would feel on display, over-attended-to, and uncomfortable, like patrons in an empty restaurant.
What I tried to do was have us all be in it together: we all sat at the same table, all did each of the exercises, and all read everyone else's work. Did it work? I think so; the students kept coming back, anyway. And I was really impressed with the stories everyone ended up with. Truth is, I was lucky to have such a great group--students and TAs--to work with; they deserve pretty much all the credit!