Mark Rogers is a 1st grade teacher at Austin Achieve Public Schools in Texas and the founder of Loop13.org.
The months after Spring Break are a sacred time for educators — teachers in every school across America look forward to these last two months as an opportunity to crystallize an entire year’s worth of human connection, learning and special classroom memories. In a situation that is equally unbelievable and profoundly tragic, stay-at-home orders bring an abrupt end to these magical moments that usually define the school year.
Yet it doesn’t have to end. It doesn’t have to end because we teachers have a choice. We can choose to finish what we started. We can choose to give these last two months back to our kids. When summer ends and the next school year begins, we can choose to welcome our students back — as their teacher in the next grade level.
Yes, we can choose to loop.
Looping is when an educator continues teaching their current class into the next grade level. The research is conclusive about its positive effects, yet adoption is frustratingly low — only one in 50 kids will likely have the opportunity to learn from the same teacher next year. Consider these next few scenarios and see yourself as that teacher, student or parent.
A 4th grade teacher takes all of the human connection and knowledge of how her kids learn best and becomes their 5th grade teacher. These 5th-graders show statistically significant improvement in assessment. The teacher believes this to be the finest year of teaching in her career.
A 7th grade middle school math teacher continues to 8th grade with the same students so she knows which knowledge gaps to fill in the first weeks of school instead of learning names and family contact information. She estimates the equivalent of 10 instructional days were added as a result of this continuity of learning.
An 11th grade English teacher takes everything he knows about his most at-risk students into 12th grade so that they trust him when he guides them through the college application process. These students are accepted and matriculate as first-generation college students and transform the lives of their families in the process.
These aren’t thought experiments. These aren’t hypotheticals. These are real stories that form the backbone for why you should ask your principal about looping today. This year, more than any other, our kids need continuity, our kids need their teachers to know them, and, as a result, our kids need their same teacher next year.