Examine the benefits of looping for a more personalized, consistent approach to teaching.

Personalized learning methods are gaining more attention as nurturing approaches to education that establish a comfortable, student-centered classroom environment are promoting pupil engagement. These practices encourage students to open up and participate in lessons due to their trust in teachers and classmates. Looping is a personalized learning method that transforms the class structure, not the individual student. This approach to teaching requires one teacher to teach the same group of students for at least two years, rather than changing the class makeup each year.

The Historical Success of Looping

loopingAccording to its 1998 booklet “Themes in Education – Looping: Supporting Student Learning Through Long-term Relationships,” Brown University’s Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory reveals that looping originates from early 20th-century Germany when an Austrian teacher named Rudolf Steiner implemented this method. According to the group, the practice is still followed in modern German education. By allowing students to work with the same teacher over the course of a few years and forge relationships with a consistent class of fellow pupils, the group establishes trust of others and themselves. As students become more comfortable in the same group, they are more likely to build the confidence that will allow greater curiosity and dispel the fear of speaking up to contribute to lessons.

Looping also creates opportunities for teachers to enjoy stronger relationships with students. By remaining with the same group of students, teachers don’t have feel pressure to reach pupils within a limited amount of time. As gaining and maintaining trust in any relationship is neither immediate nor easy, teachers can use the extra time provided in the beginning of a looping class year to connect with students. Teachers who participate in looping are able to determine the individual needs of students, thereby helping them maximize their strengths and combating weaknesses.

Potential Looping Letdowns

loopingWhile Brown University lauded looping, its booklet also cited a few caveats. Concerns arose, such as how to address the possibility of a student and teacher’s personalities clashing – would they be forced to work together for at least two years? Would educators be overwhelmed with too much additional curriculum to learn? These doubts are quickly dispelled when considering that many of these possible problems have the same solution – showing parents and students that a school is personally invested in their education and well-being solves many issues and inspires everyone to work together.

While looping requires the cooperation of a school’s entire administration and possible restructuring of the district, other alternative teaching methods exist that can be implemented immediately. Try using a blended learning approach or organizing a flipped classroom to bring a new angle to learning that will inspire students.

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