Slice of Life: Finding Personal Space

Learning in close proximity isn’t easy.

Students sit side by side, face each other. The possibility of eye contact is inevitable.  Any student who is the least bit social or curious will likely engage another. Tempers and passions can flare unexpectedly. Lines are drawn, dividing your side from mine. The annoying tap, tap of a pen or unconscious jiggling of a leg can drive a sensitive, distractible student to shout, “Stooppp!!!” when it becomes too much.

Asking a room full of 30, 11-year olds not to pay attention to their neighbor is ridiculous.

There are moments when all are deep into a book or a piece of writing. And there are a few students who have the ability to remove themselves mentally no matter what. For these few, being distracted from their books takes a lot. But for the majority, distraction is the norm.

I don’t blame them. I’d want a separate place.  So  I try to create spots for students that give them breathing room and space. To spread out.

Last week, my conferring table, piled with clipboards, and other tools became a new desk.  I travel around anyway. The desk was just a place to store and stack. The resulting change has made for a better work environment for students and a more efficient me.

I thought I had it, but students saw the changes and asked for more.

Tonight I looked at my classroom and could not see any possibilities. I have no desk; I can’t eliminate the doc cam table. Frustrated, I started to move tables. No. No. and Nope. Finally, an adjustment created a new spot. Another place to go to when a neighbor is too close for comfort and all other classroom options are taken.

We’ll see. Tomorrow we’ll test it out.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.