“My original fears about changing to a new grade quickly disappeared as I moved from a curriculum-centered to a STUDENT CENTERED classroom.”
— Barbara Hanson, teacher at Willett School in Attleboro, Massachusetts (Hanson, 1995).
I’m welcoming my 14th year of classroom teaching this fall.
I specify classroom teaching because as a mom, I know that parents are our kiddos #1 teacher.
I’m working with the class of 2030 as all 27 of us become the change we want to see in this worthy world of ours.
Every single fall is different because not one single season of life is the same.
What’s the same for our classroom this year?
We all stuck together and moved our kindergarten classroom family to the 1st grade on the 2nd floor in what feels like the 3rd dimension of this continuous learning path.
The educational world calls this opportunity, Looping.
Looping: a term coined by Jim Grant, author of “The Looping Handbook,”
refers to the not-so-new but (fingers crossed) increasingly common practice of
keeping groups of students (classroom families) together for two (or more) years
with the same teacher.
This year that teacher is me and those kiddos are my family for another 185 days of life and learning.
Learning via Looping isn’t a new concept in education; it’s been around for centuries. Remember that t.v. show, Little House on the Prairie? Mrs. Beadle was THE teacher in that old-school, one-room schoolhouse (year after year).
I like old-school in classroom design, I like old school in theory, and I’m already in love with Looping.
Here are a few lessons in looping from: “Looping: Supporting Student Learning Through Long-Term Relationships. ~ via Northeast and Islands Regional Educational THEMES IN EDUCATION Laboratory at Brown University.
■ Teachers gain extra teaching time. “Getting-to-know-you”
time becomes virtually unnecessary during the second year.
We don’t lose several weeks each September learning a new
set of names, teaching the basic rules to a new set of
students, figuring out exactly what they learned the
previous year. (Ratzki, 1988).
■ Teacher knowledge about a child’s intellectual strengths
and needs increases in a way that is impossible to
achieve in a single year. I had watched my students’ skills emerge and solidify. I was
able to reinforce those skills in a style that was consistent
over two years. (Jacoby, 1994).
■ “Long term teacher/student relationships improve…
student performance.” (George, 1987).
■ “Long term teacher/student relationships improve job
satisfaction for teachers.” (George & Oldaker, 1985).
■ Multi-year teaching offers tremendous possibilities for
summertime learning, such as summer reading lists, miniprojects,
and field trips. The thought of being able to ‘keep the ball rolling’ during
the summer recess seemed a logical and educationally sound
idea. (Killough, 1996).
■ Students have reduced apprehension about the new school
year and the new teacher after the first year. (Hanson,
1995; Checkley, 1995a).
■ Students reap benefits from time spent on developing
social skills and cooperative group strategies in subsequent
years. (Hanson, 1995).
■ Looping permits students to get to know one another
well, facilitating social construction of knowledge.
(Zahorik and Dichanz, 1994). Students are better able to resolve conflicts and they are
more skillful in working as team members to solve
problems. (Hanson, 1995).
■ Long term relationships result in an emotional and intellectual
climate that encourages thinking, risk-taking, and involvement. (Marzano, 1992; Zahorik/Dichanz, 1994). The students have learned to take risks because they trust
each other. — April Schilb, teacher (Checkley, 1995).
■ Looping encourages a stronger sense of community and
family among parents, students, and teachers. (Checkley,
It’s the sense of community and belonging that allows us to build significant relationships in the classroom.
“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” ~James Corner
Dear educational system, please allow us the time (that we know matters) in our classrooms to build these relationships. We’re raising young people, not just test scores.
Let that loop of logic run through your mind…