As I go through my classroom expectations, one of the them is that they leave my stuff alone. The stuff I’ve got in my room is stuff I need for teaching. A lot of it, I spent my own money on. If they mess with it, they’re not messing with the school, they mess with me, and their own experience.
I point out that the one real exception to this is my desk chair. It doesn’t help me teach better. I didn’t buy it with my own money. The school got it for me as a thank you for teaching, though, and therefore I’d like it if they respected it as well. It’s the only one like it in the room, and it’s the one thing I’m going to claim as my privilege for being the teacher.
Two days later, I’ve got a girl who’s obviously struggling with the warm up. She announces to the class, that she doesn’t get it ‘cause she never pays attention.
Once the rest of the class is on task with a problem set, I call her over.
I pull out the chair, and have her sit in it.
Then I grab one of the extra student chairs, and use that for myself.
The ensuing conversation is not dressing her down – it’s about how I want her to succeed. How she’s obviously having difficulty, and how she’s behind, and how she might need to come in for tutoring, or in the after school program, or saturday school. She says that maybe she won’t have to do that, if she starts trying hard in class. I tell her that maybe, yeah, she’s right, and I’ll talk to her again in a couple of weeks to see how well she’s doing.
She goes back to her desk, copies down all of the notes off of the board, gets the assignment, and starts asking her team mates for help.
I think that chair might be my secret weapon this year.