#sol14 March 4 symbiotic attitudes

Slice of LIfe

I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too! Check it out here. Thank you,  Two Writing Teachers

“I sat in a stool yesterday!”

“I’ve been in a stool for a week!”

“Did you change the chart? I was in this chair yesterday.”

This is how literacy began today. Students were so angry about their seating plan. Their anger made me angry at first. After all, I had finally made the new special seat chart because we all felt that it would be more fair than leaving it up to chance and fate. Up until recently, we had an honor system of sitting somewhere you hadn’t sat recently. That “system” didn’t work, and we all decided that we needed something more formal.

Yesterday I asked them if they wanted me to order the chart differently so they didn’t have a stool for several days in a row as we moved our class numbers through the chart, and they said no. But today, today they were unhappy.

All of these recent events and decisions swirled in my mind, as did the literacy plans I had ready to go… and I started my conversation more sharply than necessary. I was annoyed to take this time.

“Tell me what else I can do?” I said with an edge to my voice. And I repeated all that I had done thus far to help them with the fairness of the chart.

Then a hand went up with a suggestion. A good suggestion. I felt my attitude shift. I took a mindful deep breath – and I listened. I listened and we tried the idea. Then another student added an idea, and we tried that. We cut the chart apart, and moved it around the board.  More students got involved in the conversation, and the magnet moving. The class nodded in agreement with our work. We had a chart to work with that honestly was better than before.

“We’ve lost all the spots people were in before,” I started, “and if I put these magnets up I’m afraid people will be upset that they have a stool again, or the same chair again. The only way to do this is to randomly place them.”

“It’s okay!”

“We won’t say anything. Just put them up and that’s where we’ll sit.”

“We won’t complain!”

It was startling how our attitudes had shifted. Student complaints fed my annoyance – and when a student was willing to engage in the real task at hand,  I was able to break away from my annoyance, and take the edge out of my voice. We found our new chairs, and got down to the business of reading.

The messy work of creating our chair chart!
The messy work of creating our chair chart!
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14 thoughts on “#sol14 March 4 symbiotic attitudes

  1. How absolutely wonderful that you were willing to put your annoyed feelings aside and really engage in the process of seating with the children. 🙂 I know it’s not easy, but it sounds like it turned out really well. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Deb. You’re right – it isn’t always easy. I’m sure my students could post a blog or two about when I failed! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I need to remember to do it more often. One of my goals this year is to talk less… and I’m not doing so well in that goal… but I’ll keep trying!

  2. It’s great that they feel safe making suggestions to you, even if you seem a little irritated. I’m wondering what the seats mean to them. Is it a child’s sense of fairness? What else could it mean?

    1. I think it is fairness and comfort…. The stools aren’t as comfortable as the chairs. It makes me miss my old classroom couch so much! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Your students are so fortunate to have you as their teacher. You listened to them which I’m sure spoke volumes to them. It reminds me of Angela Maiers’ “You Matter” Talk. Every voice has its place.

    1. Thanks! I haven’t heard that talk – but I just googled it. 🙂 Looks awesome. I will be sure to watch it soon.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  4. You did such a great job of describing your classroom, I felt like I was there – I could feel the partnership you have created with your students. Nice.

  5. I so look forward to reading your slice! You always remind me of what’s most important, even on our most challenging days!

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