The Feng-shui classroom

If only my body was a true representation of the amount of exercise I do in my classroom: 

  • Walking around the maze of tables,
  • Hurdling over those untucked chairs,
  • Squatting down to hear “little” secrets and stories, 
  • Squatting even lower to retie shoelaces or refasten shoe buckles,
  • Catching those flying pencils, mid air, 
  • The quick reflex saving of “could be” accidents when children swing back on their chairs, 
  • Carrying stacks of books to the tables,
  • Hauling shopping bags of books from my car – to the other end of school every morning and evening, 
  • Dragging my swivel chair back to the table (without getting off the seat is all in those calf and hamstring muscles – feel the burn!) 
  • Climbing onto furniture to stick displays up above the display board space (being short is such a disadvantage in my tall ceiling classroom,)
  • Holding my hands high in the air for 5 straight minutes whilst I’m waiting for the children to drop their pencils and actually listen to me,

and finally, 

  • Manouvering classroom furniture all around the room several times in one term because suddenly, every child needs their own table since they are incapable of working together, harmoniously, anymore! 

It’s been a rough term. Supposedly a short one too, although it has felt quite the opposite! Tigger has made it his lifetime ambition to earn as many red time outs and scored a hat trick on Friday. The Oracle is pestering me as to whether his behaviour report has lots of smiley faces or not and the Tea Leaf can’t keep his light fingers to himself. 

    I predict that this last week of the current term is going to drag itself along the way so slowly, a 100 year old tortoise, plagued with tortoise arthritis, will be overtaking us on hump day…😩

    So since the easter break, my class have endured weekly, sometimes daily, room layout changes. The Oracle can no longer work with his ability group. He’s picking fights and can’t seem to share resources peacefully. I moved him onto his own table at the back and placed Tigger in his old seat. 

    When they both came to blows at the back of the classroom, one day, I moved Tea Leaf off of his own table to join the lowest ability table again, so the Oracle could sit right under my nose at the front of the room. That way, he’d have no reason (whatsoever!) to turn around and look at the children, that are apparently annoying him, unless he wanted me to see him facing the back of the room and immediately enquire as to what was more entertaining at the back of the room, than my amazing teaching right in front of him?! (To which I would definitely receive a blank face and muted response!) 

    Tigger remained at the back of the room under the calming influence of my highest ability group. All was fine for 2 amazingly glorious days. Until…

    Tigger’s behaviour began escalating until it escalated beyond my wildest nightmares. I knew it was too good to be true. 🙄 Apparently, 2 days exposure to the Oracle’s previous seat on that table has resulted in a back chatting, attitude filled, argumentative, bottle flipping, pencil flicking (and chewing), toilet loitering, fidget spinner x-ray vision seeer, across the room shouting, annoying little 💩. 

    He’s been on a behaviour report all term and it’s starting to lose any effect it had since those two amazing days where he was a model pupil. That was just two weeks ago. Tigger’s had more detentions than necessary to warrant seclusions and quite frankly, if it wasn’t for him, my class would most likely have enough marbles in the jar for ice cream sundaes on the last day. He might be trying to help keep my purse strings tight but quite frankly, he’d be doing us all a favour if he just shut up, focussed on the learning, without acting up for attention, and let us all get on with the day so we can actually achieve something other than another 3 red time out detentions in one day!!! 

    Now my class is half Victorian style, half Miss A style. I’m a lover of big group tables. I’m no longer allowed big group tables because 3 particular children need their own tables… to themselves…away from each other!  

    The Tea Leaf is so far behind the rest of his peers, he literally cannot do the same work as even the lowest ability group because he brings so much emotional baggage to school, he can’t focus. If he can’t focus, he can’t learn. If he can’t learn, he’s finding other things to do instead, such as distract and mess around with other children on the table, which then hinders their learning and progress…it’s just relentlessly useless. A viscious cycle of problems that make the classroom more challenging than it really needs to be. 

    So where do I put everybody? The Oracle can’t co-operate peacefully or share at all. He is even starting arguments with the most peaceful of class members. Tigger is unfocused and disruptive when he has an audience to perform to. Tea Leaf can’t work with others because he finds it too hard to work without an adult sitting next to him and constantly remind him to do the next question, start the next line next to the margin, simple things that the rest of the class are doing independently now.  He just finds distractions and disrupts the table without a 1:1. So that is three children who need their own space. 

    Amongst that, there is a range of other children who can’t sit together: the giggling girls, the fidgety boys, the hairdressing girls, the chatty, silly boys who would rather flick pencils than use them to write with, the bossy leaders who can’t agree fairly, unless by fair you mean their way or no other way! 

    “How many different ways can 16 tables be rearranged in a classroom to suit all ability, compatibility, emotional, social and physical needs and requirements of each child?” This dilemma would make a great Y6 SATs Maths paper question, I think! Or possibly even a GCSE question because sometimes it gives me such a headache tying to solve it by myself. 

    So far, I’ve recalled 9 ways, it possible the total is already in double digits and I’ve just forgotten some of the ways the tables have been arranged because, well it probably didn’t work in practise so was quickly changed or adapted ever so slightly, it wasn’t worth counting it! 

    However, once all of the tables are arranged, you then have to assign seats to each child based on compatibility with peers, ability in certain subjects, physical requirements (hearing or vision provisions), languages (Polish, Lithuanian, English, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Vietnamese…) in an attempt to create the right Feng shui which will allow your class to learn and enjoy learning without even a wobble along the way. 

    It’s all just one giant headache that teachers could really do without…and this meme genuinely sums it all up! 

    When I finally find a magical solution to the feng shui classroom, I’ll make sure that sharing it, is the first thing that I do! 

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