The Pros and Cons of Looping with Students: Teaching the Same Kids Twice
Back in the 2021-2022 school year, I was called over the summer and told I'd be looping with my students. Truthfully, I didn't know a whole lot about it and of course, I had major anxiety over because...CHANGE.
What is looping? Looping is when you basically move up with your students. So, you'd essentially get the same kids two or more years in a row.
Prior to this change, I was teaching 3 sections of 6th grade. Now, I'd be teaching 2 sections, and one section of ELA.
The panic was real because I had NO CLUE how I could possibly plan an entire year of NEW material. My entire school year for 6th was so thought out and planned, what else could I do?
Let's get into this more.
When I moved to 6th grade from 5th 9 years ago, I had the same sense of panic. I needed something to give me some semblance of a direction, so I had my school order me the Units of Study for 6th grade and it helped a ton with mapping out my year.
I decided to do the same for 7th grade (writing, too). I decided that well, this could work out for me if I could elevate what I did in the prior year. So my goal was to create units that could build off the year prior.
Here's the breakdown. Click the links to actually get these units.:
6th Grade: Poetry focusing on figurative language...7th Grade: Verse poetry books and song writing
6th Grade: Fantasy fiction writing...7th Grade: Mystery fiction writing
I used the Units of Study to at least give me some ideas, but I ultimately tweaked them. You can read here how successful it was in my first year.
Ok, so let's get into the pros of looping with students.
Build on prior units: Since I had the students the year before, I could get so much deeper into material since they did versions of it the year before.
Major growth: Because of building on prior units, the growth really was astronomical for some. I truly felt some were ready for high school and beyond after having me twice!
Familiar structure and routine: This makes the start of the year smooth sailing.
Parents know expectations: The parents already know what to expect from me, good or bad, so less explaining to do on that end.
Family-like: I feel like it feels sooo comfortable in my room with my repeat kids. The first day was so easy and I know the students well.
While the pros are pretty great, the cons can be a doozy.
Continuity issues: The thing is, there's a chance I DIDN'T have some of the kids the year before because they were with the OTHER teacher (who teaches one section of 6th). This is where the logic of looping goes out the window. So, my new kids have a more difficult time adjusting.
Challenging behaviors can get worse: Last year was brutal with a few of my repeaters. Their behaviors that were troubling the year before got MUCH worse. Clearly, they needed a change and didn't get it. And unfortunately, our relationships suffer.
Change can be good: On that note, sometimes we need that change from year-to-year. Some teachers and students just don't mesh well and if forced to be together again, it makes it difficult.
Repeat lessons: This is so tough. I feel like with math, it's easier, because it's so straight-forward, but ELA is essentially the same skills each year...it's tough not to repeat the skills.
Difficult parents: So far, I haven't had this issue yet, but I worry about it. What if a parent clashed with me the year before and now I have to deal with this person again?
Do I like it? The jury's still out and each day is different. I've had difficulty adjusting to the 7th grader mindset that is so different from 6th. Developmentally, they can be very apathetic and more interested in being anywhere but school. This year, however, I seem to have a good group, so check back in with me!
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