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Loop if you can! The benefits of teaching the same group of students year over year

by: Alethia Brown


“So, how’s it been rolling over with your students?” my coworker paused from making her cup of coffee. I was in the middle of “speed-needing”, a common practice for me so I could take care of a few basic needs before heading back to teach. I’d already used the bathroom, gotten water, and was about to grab a quick bite of my snack all in under 5 minutes. “What do you mean by that?” I glanced at her momentarily confused but still moving. Sometimes my hands work faster than my brain. She reframed “How does it feel to have the same group of kids again, you’ve had them for 3 years now right?” My brain started again. Thoughts and emotions that had no timeline to adhere to rushed over me. I shot her a quick “Oh I love it” and meant it. I could tell she wanted more but I didn’t have the time. Still, later that night while thinking about that question before bed my thoughts and emotions came rushing back to me. It truly is the best I thought. I also began to think how I wish every teacher could have the same chance to “loop” with their students. Here’s why I feel this way-


You get to build on established relationships

It can be challenging to learn new curriculum as you switch grade levels. Still, knowing the students and their academic capabilities helps in that transition. As a teacher who is looping up with a group you already know a lot about what your student strengths are and what is holding them back academically because you’ve taught them before. So, you’re able to act on that knowledge right away and can plan ways to challenge and assist them early which helps them grow academically. You also have some insight into what hasn’t worked and what more can be tried since you already have a history with them. This lays the right conditions for quicker academic planning, guidance, and interventions.


You get to see them grow as learners

Teaching a child in Kindergarten is truly different from teaching that same child in Second Grade. There is a lot of personal growth that each student goes through and as their teacher who’s looped up with them you get to see that growth. It is such an amazing feeling to see a child who once struggled in a subject grow academically a year or two down the line. Or to listen to how much more sophisticated their understanding of content becomes as they grow older. It’s pretty fascinating and truly enjoyable to watch personalities develop as they grow socially as well. This growth is not just happening to them. As an educator, you will be growing too! Your knowledge in everything from developmental milestones to educational standards deepens as a result. This growth helps you to become a more versatile well-rounded educator with a cache of knowledge that doesn’t just span the months but the years of children’s development.


If you get to, take the chance!

So, it’s been shown that children do better when they have the same teacher year over year and that benefit increases for children of color (Hill & Jones, 2018). From my experience I would agree. Of course, there can be drawbacks to teaching one group of students repeatedly or “looping”. For example, you will have to learn new curriculum for grades you haven’t taught before or you may get a student who you can’t establish a positive relationship with, and they might do better if they were able to start fresh with another teacher. While some drawbacks may be present, the benefits such as you as an educator really knowing the kids and you having strong established relationships with them and their families, to me outweighs the costs. So, if you can, getting the chance to loop up with your students through different grades is one you and your administrators should strongly consider as you will find that the rewards are plenty and extremely gratifying too!


Alethia K. Brown MS. Ed is in her fourth year of teaching Social Studies and Science at a charter elementary school and her eighth year of teaching professionally. She enjoys writing, training, and motivating and aspires to turn those passions into a consulting business in the near future.

Alethia K. Brown MS. Ed is in her fourth year of teaching Social Studies and Science at a charter elementary school and her eighth year of teaching professionally. She enjoys writing, training, and motivating and aspires to turn those passions into a consulting business in the near future.











References

Hill, A. J., Jones, D.B. (2018). A teacher who knows me: The academic benefits of repeat student-teacher matches. Economics of Education Review, 64., 1-12.

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