Looping, or keeping a teacher and her class together for two or more years, has many advantages. Although teachers who have never looped with their class may hesitate to try it and parents of children being asked to loop may worry, most find the experience extremely rewarding. In fact, being in a familiar environment can result in such higher levels of achievement and satisfaction that some teachers and students have opted to loop for as long as five years in some cases.
Builds Trusting Relationships
By staying together longer than one school year, students and teachers build stronger relationships and establish trust with one another. Students solve problems together naturally, as a family does, and even the shyest of students is comfortable speaking up. Socially, students gain confidence and understand one another better and when students are comfortable socially, they learn more easily. This type of relationship building occurs in a non-looping classroom by the end of the year, but by then students are getting ready to move on. A looping class can resume their relationship in the fall without the getting-to-know-you period.
Accommodates Different Learning Styles
Teachers know that children have different learning styles. Finding each student's best style vastly increases her achievement, but this takes time. In a looping classroom, once the teacher is familiar with how each student learns best, she can accommodate the different styles. She can create learning centers for tactile learners or visual learners, for example, or use individualized folders for children to work at their own pace. When the new school year begins, the teacher is already familiar with the students' styles and learning can continue at a rapid pace.
Less Reviewing, More Learning
At the beginning of the school year in a one-year classroom, teachers must test students to determine their skill and knowledge levels, then spend a considerable amount of time teaching and reviewing material they need to know. However, in a looped class, the teacher already knows what she taught the class the previous year and only needs to review to refresh their memories. She also already knows which children had more problems learning certain material and is prepared with ways to help them learn new material more easily.
Reduces Behavior Problems
Teachers say behavior problems are much more common during stressful times, such as at the beginning and end of the school year. At the beginning of the year, students get caught up in the social aspect of getting to know the other students and what the teacher expects of them. At the end of the year, they have separation anxiety, knowing they will be moving on to an unfamiliar environment. In a looping classroom, these situations are minimized. At the end of the year, they know they'll be coming back together again soon, and when they do come back together for the next school year, they are immediately comfortable instead of stressed.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.