Friday, May 14

Looping: A Gift for Teachers and Students

Looping “is an educational practice in which a single graded class of children stays with a teacher for two or more years or grade levels. The children and the teacher remain together as the class is promoted.” (To read more about Looping, read this article from Brown University.)

I am a strong supporter of looping.

When this school year started, I knew I had my work cut out for me.  Unfortunately, during the previous year, the second grade teacher was overwhelmed and had numerous personal problems.  Moreover, the students were considered unmanageable and difficult.  The saddest part was these students who were the most needy, received the least.  They were not ready for third grade. 

I was ready for the challenge.  The three years with my previous class had ended and while I was sad to say goodbye, I looked forward to a new group.  I planned to move slowly, establish routines, and most importantly, generate enthusiasm for learning.  Admittedly, there were days where I went home teary-eyed, frustrated and even more than a little annoyed at the previous teacher for what these kids had lost.  (By the way, she was let go and no longer teaches.)

With each passing day (well, sometimes a day felt like a week) progress happened.  I worked on solidifying gaps in their foundations, remediating weaknesses and showering them with enthusiasm and laughter.  My third graders who couldn’t write a sentence in September, learned to write multi-paragraph compare and contrast essays.  The art, music, gym, computer teachers couldn’t get over the change in their conduct from last year.  Success was contagious.

Here is the best news of all.  They’re mine next year.   Granted this wasn’t a big surprise – not with my persuasive skills!  Once, I knew they were mine next year for fourth grade, I reduced the internal pressure I placed upon myself and maybe inadvertently, on them. Now, as this year winds down, I’ve been reflecting on what worked and what didn’t.  I know what I need to do differently or change based on their needs.

I can’t wait for September.  When we return, I know it will seem as if only a weekend has passed.  The students and I will resume the routines, expected behaviors, and we will easily slip into the new challenges for the school year.  I know them and they know me.  Furthermore, the parents know me.  All of us will have the benefit of established trust and can savor the saved time.  Looping is a gift.


Julie Niles Petersen said...

I bet your students are as happy as you are! I can't wait to hear how it goes next year.

Sarah said...

I agree!

And I'm so glad you were able to bring them so far in such a short time--they're lucky to have you again next year!