It’s obvious that our world is facing some troublesome times, but as a teacher, this time can be especially difficult. Thankfully we still have our jobs and our career situation could be a lot scarier, but the idea that we might not get to see our kids for the rest of the school year is heartbreaking. Although there is a lot to be sad and upset about right now, this time has made me realize how thankful I am for the time I have had with my kids. Being able to teach the same group of kids for three years has been a beautiful and eye-opening adventure and I thought I would use this time to share my experience.
When I was in college dreaming of my life as a teacher, I never thought I would be in the position I am today. In my college career, I only truly learned about the traditional public school and thought that was just the reality for my future students. It wasn’t until my internship at a Montessori school, that I realized there were alternatives for myself and the children in my community. This sparked my curiosity about teaching in a non-traditional public school and I eventually found the school that I am at now which is a Waldorf inspired public school. I could go on-and-on about my experience with Waldorf and what it means, and how it affects children but for now, I am strictly going to be talking about the opportunity it provides to “loop.”
The word “looping” means to continue on with your students to the next grade. This is a very popular idea in Waldorf schools. I started working at my school in a 1st-grade class. I have moved up with the same group of kids twice and now we are all in 3rd-grade. Every year the kids and parents would ask me, “Are you going to loop up this year?” and I would always reply with, “I don’t know.” 1. This is what we were supposed to say because we do not know the plan our principal has for us, and 2. I truly never know.
If I could have it my way, I think I would loop with my kids forever, but I really have to take into account what is best for them. When I was teaching them in 1st grade I thought I would probably stop at 2nd because I don’t know if I would want to teach a testing grade. However, now that I am able to see how much my students have grown and how far they have come from where they were, I feel more confident in my ability to teach them at a higher grade level.
When I started my second year teaching the same bunch of kids I was amazed how much easier it was than year one. I knew all the students’ personalities, I knew what they needed, I knew what they would try to get away with, and I knew all their parents. I got to spend the first weeks of school actually teaching them things that would build onto what they already knew. I didn’t have to spend the first weeks rigorously teaching them what I expect from them in my classroom because they already knew. I knew what the last thing I taught them was and I knew exactly where to continue.
The one challenging part was that I had to learn new grade-level content. It sounds easy from an outside perspective because I am an adult and should know what a 2nd grader is supposed to know, but there is so much more that goes into it. This is something that I had to decide between. Would I rather learn new content and curriculum or would I rather learn a new group of kids?
Obviously, I chose to learn the new content and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Luckily I had a group of kids and families that I loved and this made the decision easier. The bond I have with my students and their families is something I can only describe as magical. The amount of love my class has for one another is truly rare because we have been together for such a long time. I feel like I am going to work with my family every day. I know there will be a day when I will not be this bunch of kids teacher and I will love and teach a new bunch of kids, but I am so grateful for this experience to truly get to know my class and see them blossom more and more every day.