Our school administrator is required to share district job posting with the staff every week. I actually perused the postings last night and thought that Food Service Assistant II would be a good fit for me right now. I would have momentary and passing interactions with students, I could do my own clean up at the end of the day to meet my standards, and while food wouldn’t exactly be respectful to me, it certainly wouldn’t be disrespectful either.
It was a long day yesterday following a long week last week. I have 29 wonderful, delightful, fun and engaging 5th graders in my room this year. And taken individually, they are each uniquely awesome. But put 29 of them in one room together and it does not bring out the best in them. I am really struggling this year to curtail the side conversations when I am instructing and I think it is a result of my own enthusiasm.
My teaching parter and I decided to fully embrace alternative seating this year. We removed almost all of the furniture from our room and replaced it with kid friendly options. We have a super high table where kids can stand, two low table where students can sit on the floor or on cushions, and lots of carpets and rugs scattered about with 25 camp chairs available for use. Given what we had seen of our 5th graders in the past 6 years, we thought this would be a great option for encouraging more comfortable, individual, and engaged learning.
Wrong. It has backfired and created more social learning instead. So we are pulling back the reins today. While I was ready to bring back desks and put them in nice, neat rows, my partner convinced me to try out assigned ‘spaces’. We are going to stick with the alternative options but students will be assigned to one location each week. We are hoping this prevents the wandering, the social grouping, and the constant hum of conversation.
It breaks my heart that these kiddos are not ready for the freedom yet. Perhaps it was a mistake to hope for that. In retrospect, we should have followed the age old advice – start off slow and then loosen up as you go along. We should have started with those assigned spaces and then allowed the students to be successful there before allowing free range learning.
Lesson learned. Great idea, poor implementation. I always tell my students that it is a good day when you can say you learned something new. So I guess I pull that job application and call yesterday a good day.
**Thursday, October 6 – After we assigned spaces, one of my students said, “I like having assigned seats. When we choose where to sit it is really hard to know where to sit so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings.” Little did we know…