Have you ever wondered what it would be like to loop with your students to the next grade? It can be a difficult decision to make. Before making that decision, you should weigh the pros and cons.
Looping means a teacher remains with the same group of students for more than one school year. I have taught multiple grades over the years and have looped four different times. Each time I discovered new things I liked (and disliked) about looping. Today I want to share those experiences with you.
I think it’s safe to say that if I have looped four times in the past, I have found more positives than negatives.
Since I already knew my students academic skills, behaviors, and work habits, I had a very quick start to the school year. After a quick refresher of rules and procedures, my students fell right back into the classroom routine. Any new students that were added to the mix seemed to jump right in. In other words, I got to skip over the honeymoon period!
Since I already knew where my students were academically, small group instruction, enrichment groups, and intervention groups began much more quickly. I also spent less time on beginning of the year assessments.
I already knew the families of my students. Parents knew my expectations and I had already established an open line of communication and trust with my families.
I also found that looping with my students pushed ME to continuously improve. I found myself pushing out of my comfort zone, thinking more creatively, and finding new ways to keep my students engaged. I couldn’t just do the same old things I had always done which helped me grow as a teacher.
This all sounds great, doesn’t it? But there were some drawbacks and things I didn’t like about looping.
Because I kept the same group of students, I was changing grade levels. This meant I needed to spend more time researching the standards and familiarizing myself with new lessons and units.
Changing grade levels also meant finding new materials. I needed new books for read aloud and the classroom library, math games, reference posters, and more! Sometimes I was able to borrow from our library or other teachers, but I’m not going to lie – my wallet also took a hit!
In some buildings, a change in grade level also means a change in classrooms. Fortunately, I never had to change rooms just because I changed grade levels. This is just something to keep in mind if your building is organized by grade level teams.
By March of the second year, my classroom really felt like a family. This sounds great, but it also meant everyone was getting a little too comfortable with each other. The students would begin acting more like brothers and sisters who would fight and bicker over the littlest things. I could say this happens every year, but after two years together you could really feel it!
The most difficult part of looping for me (and the one I was least prepared for) was how hard it would be to say goodbye. After two years those goodbyes can be extremely emotional. And come September, starting over with a brand new group of students can make you feel like a brand new teacher all over again!
So, you might be wondering – would I ever loop again? If the right group of students came along I probably would.
Have you ever looped with a group of students? I’d love to hear about your experience!