So we switched seats last Friday, like we do on the first day of every month. The kids basically get to pick where they want to sit, BUT…they can’t sit next to someone in their color group (guided reading group), they can’t sit next to someone they have sat next to before, they can’t sit in the same row they were just sitting in, and…I have FINAL say.
This system evolved this year primarily out of my laziness to make a new seating chart every month, but also out of my curiosity to see where they would sit if they were allowed to choose. It’s actually a great system because they have to figure out where they can sit based on where they can’t sit. It’s a little thing I like to call problem solving, and I just love to see those wheels turning as they try to figure it out.
Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post…
So the kids are all settled in their new spots and not one, not two, but three of them discover that the previous inhabitant had written his name in the desk…in permanent marker…which, in my book, is not okay.
I give them my best, “I’m shocked. I don’t know what to say. Did you know that writing on someone else’s property is called vandalism and that vandalism is illegal?” I try not to go overboard, but I want them to know how disappointed I am.
As luck would have it, prior to this little discovery I had told the kids I would give them some Free Choice Friday time (you know, 20 minutes of puzzles, blocks, free coloring… kids live for times like this). And there was no way I was going to let my little trio of vandals have free choice time, so I handed them each a piece of paper, told them to go grab their pencils, and I put them at the back table to write a letter to their parents explaining what they had done…while the rest of the class had free choice.
After the free choice time was up, it was time to go. I stapled a note to the letters the kids had written explaining what had happened and then dismissed everyone. (At my school, I walk the kids up to the front and I have to wait until everyone gets picked up. This typically takes about 15 minutes.)
I return to my classroom and there, with his mom, is one of the boys and she is making him wash his name off the desk. She is very calm about it, not at all berating him or anything like that…just very matter of fact…I think she handled it beautifully.
After he finishes his desk he asks if he can clean the two other names off of the two other desks, to which she replies, “Fine.” So he proceeds to clean those desks as well, and as he’s working on the third desk he says, “Momma, this is fun. When we get home, can you find some stuff at our house to clean?” She says, “Sure!” And while this beautiful little mother/son exchange is happening I’m thinking, “Wait a minute. That’s not fair! Shouldn’t he have to come to my house and clean something?!”