MARSHALL - "You don't get a new doctor or new dentist every year. Why do we think we need a new teacher?" Kelly Konietzko asked the Marshall School Board Monday night.
Konietzko has been a kindergarten teacher at Park Side Elementary for 24 years, but next year, she will be moving with her current students to first grade as part of a program called looping.
Looping is keeping groups of students together for two or more years with the same teacher, said Konietzko and Principal Heidi Critchley in their PowerPoint presentation to the board. It's the first time looping has been tried in the Marshall district.
Photo by Jodelle Greiner
Bellamy Sukalski and Easton Fleck kneel on a table to speak into the microphone at the Marshall School Board meeting Monday night. The two kindergartners helped their teacher, Kelly Konietzko, left, and Principal Heidi Critchley make a presentation to the board about looping.
"I'm so excited," Konietzko said. "Being able to keep that same group of kids and seeing how far we can go together is exciting."
There are advantages to looping, Konietzko told the board.
"That get-to-know-you time isn't needed," she said. "It gives me the opportunity from day one to work with them and move forward.
"Just the continuity for the child" is the biggest benefit, Konietzko said. "The benefit of having someone who knows them. I can continue with what I know.
"For some children where transitions are difficult, having that security of knowing the teacher and students really reduces the apprehension going into a new year," she added. "It encourages a stronger sense of community and family with parents" because they already know Konietzko.
One of the questions the students had was whether they would move into the first-grade wing with their classmates, Konietzko said, adding she and the kids will be moving with the other first-graders. Her students will be able to see other kids on the playground and in the lunchroom.
"It'll be the first time I'll get to teach first grade in a long time," Konietzko said. When this group completes first grade, Konietzko will go back to kindergarten and loop with that new bunch of students into first grade.
"It's going to make me a better teacher because I'll know both grades' curriculum," she said.
In addition to her learning a new curriculum, looping can have some disadvantages, like when a teacher and student have personality conflicts - "so far, none of that," she said - or conversely, when they get along so well it creates separation anxiety when the kids move on to a new teacher - "could be true for me," Konietzko admitted.
Critchley said parents were surveyed and "for everyone who wanted to be in a looping program, we could do that."
Konietzko got high marks in the survey, Critchley said, and all of the parents who responded expected their child to do well in the looping classroom.
Critchley also shared the comments the parents made in the survey praising Konietzko as a teacher, commenting on improvements they have seen in their children, and expressing anticipation for the results of looping.
"We'll look at the data for Kelly's students for next year and are excited to see what that data will tell us," Critchley said.