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Almost Looping

December 11, 2010 pm31 5:05 pm

I hadn’t quite thought about it like this, but I’ve more or less looped with my high school’s current senior class.

Looping is more common in lower grades. By alternating 3rd and 4th grade, a teacher effectively has one class for two years. You need a stable school for that – where a quarter or more of the staff turns over each year, it just doesn’t make sense. My friend almost moved to a 7/8 alternating loop in math in his suburban school a few years ago.

But in high school?  Maybe in some mini-schools. But modern Bronx mini-schools are turnover factories, where teachers get permanently slotted into upper-level classes, so no, not at all common. And in big high schools?  Could you really pull together the same students for the same schedule multiple years?  With electives, make-ups, moving away/transferring in?

So this is unusual. I have effectively looped.

Three years ago I taught half our freshmen (class of 2011), a class of algebra, a class of geometry. Midway through the year, my colleague left, and rather than mid-year hire (we looked, nothing panned out), I gave up my comp time (though I kept the programming responsibilities – lots of per session, summer work, exhaustion, and commitment never to attempt that again) and I taught all the freshmen.

Then last year I took a break from freshmen (I have taught at least one freshman class each year that our school has been around) and wanted to teach Algebra II/Trig for the first new NYS regents exam – and ended up with a bit more than half the juniors (class of 2011). There was something nice about working with a familiar group. By the end of the year I’d had all the juniors save 3 or 4 transfers for at least half a year, many for a full year, but most for a year and a half, and a dozen for two full years.

And this year? One more year without freshmen. I am teaching a precalc that I and another teacher redesigned (more about that another day). That gives me half the seniors.  Oh, oh, plus…. for as long as our school has had seniors, I have taught 1-term electives for seniors (and a few juniors) – combinatorics and logic. This term I teach 51 of our 86 seniors – some for precalc, some for combinatorics, and a dozen for both.

So I’ve sort of looped, sort of traveled up grade levels with our current senior class. Of the 86, four have never had me, 26 have had me for one year or less. Almost 40 have had me for 3 or 4 terms, and almost 20 have had me for 5 or 6 terms (we are in our 7th term now). And, as we are working on the Spring schedules, I know I will be seeing a few more next term…

Interesting to have moved up with a class. I know them better than our previous classes. For better. And for worse. Mostly better. I know their parents better. I probably know their interests better. Something (limited) of their plans better.

And as much as I am enjoying working with them, thinking about how they’ve grown since 2007, and more delightfully how many have stayed little kids through these awkward teenaged years, it’s started to hit me that I will miss them. And I’ve also noticed that for knowing 2011 more than any previous class, I am paying the price of knowing 2012, 2013, and 2014 less…


7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2010 pm31 5:43 pm 5:43 pm

    If you start back at frosh level, you’ll get to know the next group real well, too. Waldorf does this for their elementary. Each group of kids stays with one teacher, moving up, from 1st grade to 8th, I think.

    I’m going to have lots of my beginning algebra students in my intermediate algebra next semester. I am looking forward to a smoother semester.

  2. December 11, 2010 pm31 9:39 pm 9:39 pm

    We had looping at Feinstein, although it was a little different because we also had multi-age teams.

  3. December 14, 2010 pm31 6:09 pm 6:09 pm

    I can’t imagine teaching 86 kids in the same year group… our system is so different!

    We expect to take the same class for the two years up to public exam at 16, and the sets for math for 16-18-year-olds roll over for the two years too. You definitely build a different relationship because of it.

    Equally, if you have a class that you’re realising at this stage you’re not enjoying the dynamic with, suck it up, there’s still 18 months to go…

  4. ты знаеш permalink
    January 6, 2011 pm31 10:29 pm 10:29 pm

    вот ета меня довило до слоз.

    • January 7, 2011 am31 1:26 am 1:26 am

      I know that there is a missing soft sign (знаешь).

      And it’s really not all that surprising, is it? Even for an old guy, four years is a big chunk.

      Almost brings me to slëz, too.

  5. January 7, 2011 am31 9:47 am 9:47 am

    I like the idea of looking in general. I’ve done it and it helped develop a bond that others couldn’t break for 6th – 8th grade. It’s fun. However, some kids simply can’t have the same teacher twice in a row because the student may need a new person to teach them and the teacher may need a break from the child. I loved looping, but with some students, we just didn’t match well. Good post here.

    And for the record, I cried when the 8th graders left. They did too.


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