In education, "looping" refers to the practice of a teacher remaining with the same group of students for more than one grade level.
The looping model was first developed by Progressive educator Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf movement, more than a century ago. Rather than being sent off to another teacher at the end of every school year, students remain in the same room, with the same teacher and the same classmates, for a longer period of time.
At Falk School, looping occurs in grades 1 and 2 and again in grades 4 and 5. As a result of these carefully chosen two-year developmental loops, an exceptionally deep and rich sense of community and family develops among Falk students, their parents, and their teachers.
Why loop? At Falk School, we see it as our responsibility not to try to shape students to fit "the system," but to shape our systems to fit the students - their needs, their strengths, and their interests. No better sense of community can exist than when it is created and allowed to exist over a significant period of time. For instance, through looping:
- Teachers increase their knowledge of a child’s strengths and needs in ways that are much less possible to achieve in a single year.
- Long-term teacher-student relationships can and do result in familiar, safe, and nurturing classroom climates that encourage critical thinking, innovation, and involvement.
- The additional time working with students (two years versus one) keeps teachers fresh and innovative in their classrooms.
The looping model is a fascinating way to approach certain grades. Being with them for two years allows the teacher to see progression and tailor lessons and projects directly to the kids' interests and needs. You can have a project/lesson/idea span both years and see an immense amount of growth. Most of all, the connections you make with students and families during those two years can be incredible.
- Kevin Goodwin, 1st and 2nd grade looping teacher