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c6g c6g is offline
 
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The chairs? The desks?
Old 01-15-2017, 09:38 AM
 
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Has this ever happened to any of you? Last Monday I was in a second grade classroom, and discovered that the teacher wasn't a big believer in chairs, tables, or desks. There were some for students who wanted them, but not enough for everyone. There were no assigned seats or floor areas. Students were free to sit anywhere they wished. I've worked at that school many times, and there's no shortage of chairs and desks. Most of the teachers have a traditional classroom setup, but they're allowed to have this less common arrangement if that's what they want.

It was a wild day. The kids were nice, but very active. Getting them quiet for a new activity was always a chore. Some of them never stopped talking, and I left at the end of the day with a bad headache.

Many kids have a hard time sitting still and need opportunities to move around, but I wonder about this kind of classroom organization. Maybe it works for the teacher (although I'm not sure how), but I won't be returning.


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Old 01-15-2017, 09:44 AM
 
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I am not currently a sub, but know that in the past there have been a number of teachers who are allowing more opportunities for students have choice in where they work and sit. They are bringing in different options so that students can have better choice and therefore better output.

I don't buy into it whole hook, line, and sinker. While I think kids need some movement, I also think the goal is that they can sit quietly and get work done. In other words, I think having some options for some work time is okay, but eliminating regular seating altogether is hooey. However, I also know that education is typically a place where we often swing from one extreme to the next without thinking about moderation in all things.

I wouldn't sub there again either, if it was crazy.
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Old 01-15-2017, 02:31 PM
 
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I've seen rooms with the traditional desk/chair setup (or sometimes table/chair), I've seen other rooms where no one has a chair or a desk, they do all their work on clipboards while sitting on the floor, and I've seen other rooms where teachers offer options---some kids sit at a regular desk with a chair, some kids have a bouncy ball at a chair, others sit at a very low table on the floor and others just sit on a beanbag on the floor without any sort of desk.

I'm really not a fan of it as it makes it hard to keep track of who is where (as they aren't in speciic seats where it would be easy to draw out a seating chart). Once they get to middle school, they won't have the option of different kinds of seating anymore, so I don't think they need to get used to it in elementary schools.

The best behaved classroom I was ever in had the old-school setup with all the desks arranged in rows and the teacher's desk in front facing them. It was so easy to wander around the room there as you weren't worrying about accidentally stepping on someone sitting on a beanbag, and kids were less likely to talk to their neighbors as they weren't facing anyone.
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:08 PM
 
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At the beginning of the school year I encountered a 2nd grade class with instructions to "just let the kids sit wherever...". There was one bouncy ball that they were allowed to sit on for 10 minutes at a time. Well, right off a boy got mad at a girl for sitting on the bouncy ball because he wanted on it. I told him he could be next on the ball when her time was up and he appeared to be okay with that solution. Then I had to wade across the kids laying in the floor to get to a group on their laptops who couldn't get them to work. While I was putting out that fire the little bouncy ball girl came over crying because the boy had stabbed her in the leg with his pencil in an attempt to get her off the ball. This happened within the first hour of our school day. The offending boy and wounded girl were escorted to the office and then I received a visit from the asst principal telling me I should have been more preemptive to ward off this unfortunate incident. And then she reprimanded the little wounded girl saying "Little Johnny said when he told you to get off the bouncy ball you said to him "make me" so what did you expect him to do?" ...implying that Little Johnny was justified in stabbing her in the leg w/pencil, because what else was he supposed to do??? Ugh.

The entire day consisted of me trying to get the students attention and by 3:30 I was ready to run to my car and I have not been back to that school since. I am admittedly old-school and believe each child should have their appointed seat/desk for everybody's sanity!
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The entire 5th grade in one school
Old 01-15-2017, 04:02 PM
 
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where I sub has that set up, or lack of set up. It's awful. Kids bouncing on a giant ball cannot focus on classwork. Bouncy balls are for playtime. Others are sitting high up on the kind of raised tables and backless stools common in bars. Their feet are not touching the floor and instead are dangling, swinging, kicking others, etc. There is no storage space other than cubbies against the wall, which means everybody gets up to visit their cubbie every time an activity changes. What a waste of time. Also, kids quarrel over where they want to sit. Whoever came up with this assinine concept had screws loose. In this crazy, chaotic world, kids need some sense of order and discipline. If they can't find it at school, where can they find it?



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Old 01-15-2017, 04:30 PM
 
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I like the idea of alternative seating (standing desks, etc.) but I'm not a fan of total chaos, and I hate arguments over whose turn it is for the ____. I definitely think it would be hard to walk into a room like that without knowing the kids' names.
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Crazy
Old 01-15-2017, 08:17 PM
 
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If I walked in on one of those situations I'm pretty sure I would be going home sick and never coming back to that school or teacher.
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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
 
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Yes, no...
Old 01-16-2017, 03:13 AM
 
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I'm ambivalent. Part of me objects to the trend ("fad" might be more accurate) of reducing structure in the classroom.

But there is also value in allowing some degree of freedom.

It seems to me that we are often extremists in education. Somewhere between an expectation that students will sit at desks in straight rows with their hands folded and the opposite where students work wherever they want, there might be a balance.

At some level, it might depend on what we're trying to achieve. Perhaps in the ideal world, a classroom would have areas--an area with desks and chairs, an area with bean bags and rugs... we are doing some of that when we create "centers."

I recently started a "read aloud" -- typically done with the kids sitting on little mats around the teacher seated in a rocking chair. When I announced what we were going to do, one of the kids asked if they could stay at their desks... I asked "why" and was told "it's easier to concentrate." We voted. They stayed at their desks. It went extremely well!
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What?!
Old 01-16-2017, 05:17 AM
 
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What kind of administrator justifies one child stabbing another child? I'd be angry if the stabbed/poked/whatever child was my own!!

As for the seating, I don't love it. It may have it's place during certain times of the day, but sitting in a desk, straight up and paying attention is a skill, and kids need practice with that skill. They aren't at home where it's appropriate to sprawl out all over and do homework. This is school. I'm not sure that we're properly preparing kids for the real world when we do things like that.
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Old 01-16-2017, 06:39 AM
 
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"I'm not sure that we're properly preparing kids for the real world when we do things like that."

Ironically, that's the one thing I think we are doing. By letting them explore different ways of working and figure out what situation leads to their best work, we're preparing them to successfully choose exactly what kind of work environment to look for as adults. - There are jobs where you sit at dsks, jobs where you hardly ever get to sit, etc.

But I still think it might be too little structure for a big group of kids still developing self control (and a nightmare for subs without a seating chart). It has it's place, but I agree with the above mention of balance.



Last edited by Lakeside; 01-16-2017 at 10:59 AM..
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What Lakeside Said...
Old 01-17-2017, 02:09 PM
 
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Quote:
By letting them explore different ways of working and figure out what situation leads to their best work, we're preparing them to successfully choose exactly what kind of work environment to look for as adults. - There are jobs where you sit at desks, jobs where you hardly ever get to sit, etc.
And the work environment is also developing... look at what some of the advanced companies are doing and know that it's not all brand new. When I was working as a consultant in the 1980's I worked with a company that was experimenting with recliners for workstations. They also encouraged napping and game breaks. Standing desks are growing in popularity and there are "pods" for gaming--pods for working are next.

Much of what we do in the classroom is for our (teachers, admin, subs) benefit, not for the kid's benefit. A number of "classroom management gurus" suggest some self-examination on this point. Personally, I like working in a quiet space, but I know people (adults and kids) who require some noise.

I know a few teachers who insist on quiet in the cafeteria during lunch. Meanwhile, we complain that families rarely eat together and when they do there's no conversation because everyone's on electronic devices. Think about that.
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