A little over two months have passed since students in grades three through six at Riccardi Elementary began attending classes in a way similar to middle-school students.
At Riccardi, students in these grades move from classroom to classroom for each of the four major subject areas of English, math, science and social studies. Rather than staying in a single class with a single teacher who teaches the majority of academic subjects, students learn from multiple teachers, who each specialize in a particular content area.
When the idea was introduced at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, it was met with opposition from many parents. Some complained that they had not been consulted about the change. Others thought the movement away from a single classroom teacher could disrupt the bonding between student and teacher. Still others thought switching classes was developmentally inappropriate for students so young.
Now that students and teachers have experienced the change, how do things stand? Have these concerns been alleviated?
According to Principal Sue Osterhoudt, the move has been going “very well.” At November’s Board of Education meeting, Osterhoudt said students report that they like moving from class to class. Now that students have all four core classes every day, she said they have told her “the day goes by very fast, so that tells me they’re not bored.” There are fewer behavior problems among students, as well.
Teachers, too, are happy with the change. Osterhoudt reported that they love being able to get in-depth within a subject. They feel their roles are “more defined.” They have more time to plan with the other teachers on their teams, and use the time to schedule parent conferences, tests and quizzes, and to discuss student progress. They are also happy with the looping component of the change. Because they have the same group of students two years in a row, they were able to pick up right where they left off in June. Osterhoudt said the teachers are still flexible, though, and will tweak things if they find it necessary.