- Elementary students perform better when they have solid relationships with teachers, according to two new studies — one that examined a structure where students were less successful when they had different instructors for various classes and another in which student test scores improved when they had the same teacher for two years.
- According to The Hechinger Report, one of the studies suggests that when teachers are “platooning” — meaning they specialize in content areas and students have different teachers for those subjects — there are more suspensions, higher levels of absenteeism and lower math and reading scores, most notably among students with special needs.
- But the other study found that those who had the same teacher for two years had slightly higher test scores overall, with significant benefits for minority students. Students new to the class also benefited, suggesting that looping improved the environment for learning in general, the researchers said.
For about 20 years, researchers have been reporting that there are benefits to teacher familiarity, perhaps starting with a 1997 report showing that it improved students' performance and their attitudes toward school. Another study of middle school students showed that those who had participated in a “caring community of learners” at the elementary level — which focused on tighter relations among students and their teachers — performed better academically, were more committed to school, more social and better behaved.
At the college level, a recent study showed that when a college professor was antagonistic toward students, they didn’t learn as well. A new report in Education Week offers suggestions for how principals can connect with students, including asking them for their input, responding to the feedback and being “visible, approachable and interactive.” Those same strategies can also work at the classroom level.