South Philadelphia: Teachers and Students Stay Together for Years

Megan Conley sits in her fourth-grade classroom, where she will teach the same class for the third consecutive year.]

At the start of each school year, teachers at George W. Nebinger struggle to get their class to follow new rules set by new teachers. But Megan Conley’s fourth-grade class already knew what was expected of them as they settled into their new classroom this year.

After all, they’ve had the same teacher since second grade.

When Conley’s class performed well during her first year of teaching them, former Nebinger principal Stephanie Phillips asked Conley to continue on with her students into third grade, an educational method known as “looping.”

The teacher stays with the same class for consecutive years. Looping offers students consistency, which can add to their learning experience.

Emphasizing the importance of parental involvement, Conley said looping benefits parents as well.

“Anytime I call them, they’re more willing to answer,” she said, adding that she sees the same parents repeatedly at parent-teacher conferences. “They know me, they appreciate what I’m doing, [and] so they’ll come in.”

But Conley said being with the same set of kids does have drawbacks.

“The kids might benefit from a new teacher [and] getting to know someone else,” Conley said. “The downside for me is some of the behaviors that I kind of got sick of the first year. It’s now the second and third year, and it’s frustrating a bit.

“Compared to most classes, their behavior is wonderful,” Conley added. “I try not to be biased based on previous years because each year they can mature. So I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s good to try to keep an open mind when you loop.”

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