Monday, October 01, 2007

Tis The Gift To Be Simple. . . .

Many years ago I had a student who absolutely could not sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. His entire body fairly twitched, like the car-stealing kid in Holes, and most of the time he could be found walking, walking, walking around whatever classroom he was in that period, bothering everybody with the constant movement, until the teacher told him to 'take his seat and stay there.'

But he couldn't 'stay there.' That was the whole problem.

He was a nice kid, smart, well-read, respectful. . . He raised his hand before he spoke out, loved to participate, contributed positively, did his homework, made good grades. . . he just couldn't sit still.

I loved this kid. But it was unfair both to him and to all the other kids, for him to be constantly on the move in the classroom, randomly pacing, pacing, pacing, and going nowhere in particular, just needing to move his body.

I knew I couldn't do anything about the movement, but I thought I might try something about the 'random.'

So I assigned him two seats on opposite corners of the classroom. I figured, if his wandering was purposeful - walking directly from one desk to another - it might not be so distracting to everyone else and might even give the kid some focus.

Oh, he still had to get up and pace, pace, pace, but now he paced from Desk One to Desk Two, sat and tried to focus for a few minutes, then got up and paced from Desk Two back to Desk One. He was really good about not deviating from the path.

Now, the other kids weren't constantly bothered by his random walking, walking, walking, I didn't have to constantly tell him to sit down (every time he got to one of his seats, he immediately sat down) his body got to pace out the tension or stress or ADD or whatever the problem was, he didn't have to worry about interrupting or annoying the rest of us (he really was a good kid!) the stigma of "disobeying" was gone (as long as he kept to his part of the deal, which he did, beautifully and gratefully) and we all got along fine.

Some of his teachers refused to try anything except the request, then the command, then the threat, and then the punishment, but those teachers are the ones we don't want to sit by at a teacher's meeting. (Couldn't resist, sorry.)

I'm not saying that this is the solution to any and all disruptive situations wherein a student refuses to stay seated, but it worked for this boy. And it probably wouldn't have worked if he hadn't been an innately good, well-meaning, polite kid.

But that year, with that student, and his particular circumstances and disposition. . . . it worked beautifully.

Sometimes the solution is so simple it eludes us.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:36 PM | |


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