What is Looping?

This is a technique whereby a teacher continues to work with the same set of kids as they grow and move through grades for two years or more. There are several benefits of looping.

The main benefit is that the teacher and the students get to know each other well. Students are aware of the teacher’s routine and expectations. Thanks to this continuity, no time needs to be spent on introductions or embedding classroom culture.

For learning the classroom culture, the time a student will take would be somewhat shorter than what the teacher will require to learn about each student. To make learning effective, the teacher needs to know the way each student learns, what encourages and discourages them, and what baggage they bring to the class. With looping, the teacher doesn’t need to invest time to connect to each student every year and know these things about them. This way, the teacher can save precious time.  

Looping also helps reduce adverse childhood experiences like parental separation, substance abuse, exposure to neglect or violence, or divorce that are known to reshape students’ brains negatively. Such experiences often trigger challenging classroom behaviors and interfere with students’ learning and development. As a caring adult, a teacher can help these troubled students express themselves, understand who they are, what place they have in this world, and why they matter. They may even help students exercise control when strong emotions begin to surge. This way, a teacher can make all the difference to these students’ life and direct them on the path to success.

With looping, the teacher and students become like a family. Over time, the teacher and the students’ families build deeper connections. Though this relationship can become strained, at times, looping helps the teacher and students’ families recognize their common goal – helping the students succeed. This encourages both parties to work on a similar goal and help students grow on their journey. 

With looping, students can transition to higher grades more easily. Whether it’s about grades K-2, 3-5, or 6-8, looping needs the teacher to be entirely immersed in the standard course of study of all three grades. A noticeable benefit of this format is that a teacher knows well what a student brings to the class from the last year. Thus, the teacher can help build on that learning and create better connections to the present year’s curriculum.

In brief, looping helps create a strong sense of community over time that can work wonders for students. However, looping has some disadvantages too. Often, it’s difficult to convince other teachers to commit to a looping format, especially when teachers are moved to a different grade each year and need another teacher to handle the grade they have vacated. It’s equally challenging to find an administration that supports teachers in implementing looping. 

Additionally, looping makes students familiar with a teacher’s idiosyncrasies, classroom culture, and methods. As a result, switching to another teacher after years could be difficult. Another problem is that looping is more time-consuming because a teacher’s curriculum needs to evolve as the students get older.

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