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    Out of Seat Student
    By CageyBee

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    When I taught third grade, I had a student with many issues stemming from learning problems , as well as, problems as home. He was brazen yet scared. He was a bit of a bully yet cried easily. He couldn't work in his seat at all but he had potential. He wandered aimlessly around the room sometimes quietly and looking confused but sometimes with the sole purpose of bothering the other children. It was getting too disruptive. After conferring with his dad, the school team and trying all sorts of rewards,punishments, and incentives, it was clear to me I had to be creative with this unique, troubled boy.

    The idea happened quite by accident. One day in October during our discussion of Columbus, the conversation focused on following directions. The children were really interested in the N,S,E, and W concept and how the stars played a big role in early sailors' journeys. I had compasses and distributed one to each "sailor"; we labeled the room with the cardinal names; we traveled around the building using our compasses. Then it hit me. That little boy had a huge interest in the topic so I gave him a seat in the north part of the class and one in the south. We discussed a plan on how he could "journey" from one safe harbor to the other and what routes were the only acceptable ones to use. I emphasized that to have the right to do so in our "world" (the class) meant he had to fulfill all the responsibilities as a citizen including the assigned work. Although not totally foolproof at first, the plan worked beautifully! I think the rest of the class LOVED this new captain more than me. If he dared to get off course, the steered him back without the usual drama from the past days. I made sure the dad and the boy received couseling and that the dad was given some parenting skills. It's rare that a child's issues "just happen at school".

    I have used this two seat concept many times over the years but discreetly and with a "whole package plan" in place. I wish I had thought of it sooner. The lesson for me (and all teachers) is that sometimes we need to look for a solution that's not traditional. If kids aren't learning the way we teach, then let's teach the way they might learn. Good luck!

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