Some years ago I looped from fourth grade to fifth grade with my students. Many friends, both teachers and non-teachers, were concerned that this move would be rough, as I was pregnant at the time. Again and again I heard, “Won’t it be a lot to learn a new curriculum?”
My response was always, “Probably, but I won’t have to learn new kids.”
Usually when I think about this, I’m thinking about how hard the start of the year is when I don’t know my students yet. I don’t know their interests or skill sets. I don’t know the challenges they’re facing (and I do recognize that I might never truly know that). I don’t know when and how to push them to try harder or try again. It takes a long time, maybe the first couple of months, to really know that about my kids.
It got me thinking about all of the things teachers need to know, just know, have in their heads all the time, about their students.
- the student’s strengths academically, socially, and in any other way
- the student’s needs academically, socially, and in any other way
- the student’s interests and hobbies to connect their learning
- any allergies or other health issues the student has
- when the student gas been absent and missed an assignment or test
- any current challenges the student is facing (ill family member, loved one moving away, etc.)
- what their coat and backpack look like so I can take them to the clinic if the child is going home
- if they’re going home a different way than normal
And the list goes on.
At the drop of a hat: Sibling’s names (and teachers) without having to look it up in the school directory; most behaviors and the recognition of the most subtle of changes, which usually indicate illness or depression; their cultural heritage; and how students handle partnerships and small-group teamwork. There were quite a few years when I wondered what it might have been like to loop with my kindergarteners, and already knowing them was high on my list of pros.