'Looping' With Students: When It Works and When It Doesn't – Education Week

“Looping”—the practice of matching students with the same teacher for two years (or more) in a row—has been around for decades. Could it be a solution for accelerating student learning and rebuilding student-teacher relationships after all the schooling disruptions caused by the pandemic?
On social media, teachers give mixed reviews of the practice. Some see it as the cost-friendly solution to improving student-teacher relationships and minimizing learning loss across grade transitions. Others consider it impractical without an opt-out choice when students and teachers don’t mesh or with the wrong mix of students.
In a nationally representative survey administered at the beginning of the pandemic, 54 percent of teachers supported looping as a strategy to address learning loss resulting from the sudden shift to remote learning. A 2018 study suggests the teachers who favor the practice may have a point. It found that looping with elementary students resulted in improved student test scores, with the benefits being greatest for students of color.

Likewise, a LinkedIn poll directed at teachers who have looped with students found that 79 percent described their experience as favorable, 16 percent reported it was neutral, and 5 percent said it was negative. Across multiple social media posts, educators shared their first-hand experiences looping with students. Here’s what they had to say:

Many teachers found that having students for two years or more allowed them to build up momentum and hit the ground running in the next year.

Claire DeLaurentis

Laura McKean

Karen Ellert Garber

Christine M. Reinders

Cherri Schrick

Some teachers noted both challenges and rewards they experienced when looping.

Rachel Ann Swillum

Janalie Youngblood

Neil Konitshek
Some educators expressed a dislike of looping.

Shannon Titshaw Ed.S.

Eric Deeter

Commenters also pointed to an existing area of education where looping often occurs naturally: electives. Elective teachers spoke to their experiences as educators who often have recurring student groups.

Kayla Davila-Meek
Christi L. Lewis
Some commenters proposed that giving students and/or teachers choices in looping scenarios could help mitigate the potential challenges.

Emily Crum

Dr. JoAnn DeStefano Cardillo


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