Sunday, April 08, 2012

Give Me a Little Space Here...

My sixth period has a total of 31 kids.  Now, that may not seem all that much to some of you, but if you saw how big - rather, how little - my room is, you can see that there may be a bit of a space issue.  I have seven round tables of four, which gives us 28 seats, plus some typical student desks ("Isolation Island"), so I can, barely, cram 33 in there.  That includes every single seat in the room, including one at the PowerSchool computer, occupied. And at that, the kids are practically on top of each other and there's not a whole lot of elbow room or space between seats. (And to make it more fun, there are six special ed kids, two gifted, one with some odd emotional issues, and a lot of just low achievers.  It's a real trip.)

People often walk into my room and go "How on earth do you fit 31 kids in here?"

I'm wondering that myself.

However, what's really odd about this class of 31 is that there are three boys who have decided that they need to Sit As Close To The Teacher As Possible.  This means that there are two boys sitting at my actual desk (one in my chair, another on a stool, they rotate every day), and another sitting on another stool by my computer.

I'm not sure what prompted this or brought it on.  Two of them Are Pains In the Neck (usually) who probably should be close to the teacher anyway.  The other just likes to be up there for some reason.  A few months ago, Bouncy Boy (a little thing wound up like a top with ADHD like you wouldn't believe) asked if he could sit at my desk.  I was at the point where I was willing to try ANYTHING to get him quiet, and to focus, and to get him away from some other low-achievers in the room, so I said that he could as long as he behaved.

He behaved. He did his work.  He handed me things I needed for instruction.  He was an angel.  I don't know if sitting up there has anything to do with it, but he's doing much better now.

Another one decided that he really, really wanted to help me run the computer when I do Brainpop and PowerPoints, and he really, really wanted to sit on my teacher stool (kind of like a barstool, a bit taller than a chair).  Well, it worked for Bouncy Boy so I gave it a try.  Same results.  He's doing better.

And then the third one, who's usually a pretty good kid wanted to sit on the stool by Bouncy Boy.  I was a little hesitant at first, but I said they could as long as they behaved, and they would have to switch back and forth and share the chair and stool, which they've done.  He's doing better now.

So, I'm a bit out of my comfort zone here as I've got one kid on one side of me, and two on the other.  I also tend to walk around the room a lot so now I'm having to squeeze by them every time I move from my document reader out to circulate around the classroom (which they don't seem to mind, we've got a routine down now.)   It must look incredibly odd to see these three kids working at my desk and teacher station, but honestly, as long as I get results out of them, I'm happy.

What has me wondering...why is it so important for these three to be so close to the teacher?  Are they that starved for attention and affection at home that this is the only way they get any?  I know some of them have rather, shall we say, testy relationships with their parents.  (Honestly, find me a parent of a seventh grade boy who isn't frustrated and exasperated...)  But really...does make me wonder.  Are we just raising a generation of kids starved for human contact and attention?

In the meantime, while I ponder these great things, I'll just learn to deal with feeling a little cramped and confined and appreciate that these three young men are finally doing better in science.  Even if it's something as silly as sitting at my desk that's doing it.

Whatever it takes...


Elaine said...

Sadly, I think we are raising emotionally starved kids. Parents are told let their young children cry themselves to sleep, or they will never sleep through the night... Dont hold the baby or it willbe too clingy... Basically ignore and/or push your child away so they can learn to be independent.

You're giving these kids some much needed emotional security just by listening to them and letting them sit where they can feel secure enough to work - so awesome job!

Unknown said...

I teach 9th and 10th graders, and my kids fight for the chance to sit at my desk and work the PowerPoints or write the answers or give examples on the document reader. All of them, even the most disruptive students, do well when it's their turn. I don't know what it is either, but I like to use whatever works, too!

Slauson Media User-Ann Arbor, MI said...

I agree with the previous comment. These students need to be where they are. It is uncomfortable for you, but it helps them. It reminds me of years ago when i taught at an urban school. My desk became a work station for several students. As long as they sat around my desk, I could get work out of them and they didn't bother other students. I know that it must have looked weird to other teachers, but it worked in my room.

Darren said...

I get IEP's/504's all the time that require students to sit up front. And then there are the AVID students who tell me, "I'm in AVID, I'm supposed to sit up front."

Perhaps the "next big thing" in school design will be the classroom wherein *everyone* sits up front.