Teachers love games. We are constantly creating puzzles, riddles, challenges, and most importantly, seating charts. They are the real brain teasers of the classroom.
In some ways creating a seating chart is akin to playing Tetris. We create groups, rows, boxes, L’s and zigzagged desks in order to accommodate the plethora of students in the room, moving and turning the faux-wood topped units until they fit in the room just right. The only difference is that once we create the perfect fit, a row of students doesn’t disappear. Also, there isn’t the mesmerizing Soviet era folk music.
In other ways seating charts are similar to playing chess. Whenever I create a new seating arrangement, I meticulously place students in strategic locations in order to win the room. In most classes there is a king and/or (drama) queen to conquer. I quickly move to isolate them from the defenses of their pawns or pin them to place with well behaved bishops or retarded rooks. I am not joking when I say that I plan several moves in advance.
If I place so-and-so here, he will try to get up and pretend to sharpen his pencil to say something rude to this girl over there, in which case, this other girl will…
Then there are times like today, when creating a seating chart is like playing minesweeper.
In one of my classes, two of my students told me that they can’t sit together. Now, this happens all the time because sixth grade girls are completely self-centered, completely unaware of hurting one’s feelings when declaring, “I can’t stand him!” while standing next to him. Also, sixth grade boys are pretty weird, so I can’t entirely blame the girls.
Usually I tell the kids to suck it up because I am not about to rearrange my carefully crafted calculated chart, but I could tell that there was a real urgency in the pleas of these two students. I walked over and jokingly said, “What’s the deal? What? Are you exes or something?”
Their faces answered in the affirmative.
I took a sharp epiphanic breath, “Oh…”