Ah, the first day of school in September! The odor of floor polish, the aroma of fresh coffee from the staff room, the shiny desks and clean blackboards welcome teachers back after the summer break. Soon, the children arrive with fresh haircuts, eager, scrubbed faces, and new backpacks.
For the first few days, everything is usually relatively peaceful. The students have to find their new classrooms, meet their new teacher, and greet their friends from previous years. As a teacher, I found it wise to allow them to choose their own seats in the classroom for the first few days, until we all got to know each other.
About the beginning of the second week, I made a seating plan which I judged to be the best arrangement to facilitate learning for every child.
The mature, responsible students who worked well independently were placed near the back of the room. They would seldom need help or extra attention.
The average children were in the middle of the room, with the more immature, or shorter ones nearer the front.
The front seats were reserved for those with moderate to severe hearing or visual impairment and those with behavioral problems. I found that having these special students close to me, as the teacher, worked best for the following reasons:
* If those with behavior problems were acting out because they did not understand the work, I was close enough to see when they were having difficulty, and lend a helping hand.
* If they were seeking attention, they were in the best place to get it.
* If they had ADD, (attention deficit disorder), I would notice and return their attention to the task at hand as often as necessary.
* If they were hyperactive, I could assign little jobs through the day to fulfill their need to move around. ( Erase a blackboard, take a note to the office, or return a book to the library).
* Whatever was causing the problematic behavior, if the children were near, I could usually look after quickly, quietly and efficiently, without causing an undo disturbance for the other students.
* The other children also benefited from this seating arrangement. If there was a disturbance, they did not need to turn around in their seats to see what was going on behind them. A quick glance to the front of the room assured them that the problem was being taken care of.
* If there was another teacher or a visitor to the class, it was easy to alert them to potential problems. I could advise them to keep an eye on the children in the front row, rather than “ Joe in the second row, third seat back, Susy in the fourth row, fourth seat back, and Jim in the fifth row, third seat back.“
The special front-row seating usually changed throughout the year. If a student matured and was able to work more independently, he could be moved back. Another child might have a family crisis, such as the separation or divorce of his parents, which would unsettle his world, and he would need special attention for a while.
It`s important for parents and teacher to be open and truthful with each other for the ultimate benefit of the student. If the teacher does not know when there is a crisis at home, she will not understand a sudden behavioral change in one of her students. Similarly, the parent needs to be told why Johnny`s seat has suddenly been moved right up front, so he`s sitting practically under the teacher`s nose.
Ah, the first day of school with the hopes and dreams of the parents and the teacher focused on the progress, the growth, and successful completion of the year`s work by the children. With effort, openness, and good will on the part of everyone involved, those hopes and dreams will be come to fruition the following June.