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Monday, June 6, 2011

Looping

It's such a funny word that people outside of education really don't understand.

I "looped" up with my kids from Kinder to 1st Grade this year. It's the 1st time I have officially taught a grade other than Kinder. I absolutely loved the challenge of the experience (and it was very challenging) and would do it again if my principal let me in a heartbeat. I kind of learned as we went along so I know I would be much better at it if given another opportunity.

Benefits to looping:

* You know the kids-how they learn, who can't sit next to whom, what their strengths and weaknesses are.
* You can really start teaching right out of the gate. Of course we have required assessments, but I really
    already knew where they stood academically.
* You know the parents and families already and have already established that communication.
* The class is already a community-they already care about each other, you have that aura established
* The really know you-I love that know when I'm joking or being sarcastic
* You will be able to prepare future classes better for the next grade because you saw 1st-hand what they
    had to learn.

Drawbacks (more advice really,  if you ever do this with your class)
* They get very comfortable-with you and with each other. They know how far they can push. With each other they become like brothers and sisters-getting on each other's nerves more often. You have to do what you can to shake up your management techniques a bit and I changed their seats often.
* It is really challenging to come up with ALL new activities. I think most teachers have certain books or projects they do every year--nope, already did that. It was a good challenge because I think sometimes teachers get in a funk and start putting in the minimum. It definitely keeps you on your toes creatively.
* New curriculum and for me I actually had to deal with grades! It wasn't the grading part that was hard, but actually coming up with assessments that were fair and properly showed where the kids stood academically that's something I'm still not sure I mastered.

Like I said-I loved the experience and would whole-heartedly recommend every teacher do it at least once. The last day was much more bittersweet because I had them for 2 years, I felt like I taught them all I could and new I had to let them move on. But it's hard when you have a group like I did! One student asked if I could be their teacher all the way up to high school and I almost, almost would consider that! :)
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