The last moving day:
This was the scene before school today, as the kids had cleaned out their desks in preparation for changing desks, for the 12th and last time this school year. Yes, we change partners every three weeks. Lots of disruption and mess, but worth every minute and homeless crayon found rolling around on the floor.
The kids have sat with 12 different classmates this year. Desks are arranged in pairs, as I believe 2 is absolutely the maximum number in a truly collaborative work-group for 8 and 9 year olds. Lots of the work we do is cooperative.
I truly believe one of the most important tasks I have is to teach kids how to get along with each other. How to help and learn from each other. How to lean on each other, and how to put up with each other. Three weeks has been a good time period. I tell the kids - even if you're seated next to somebody you don't know, or don't think you can get along with - you can do ANYthing for three weeks! I've had to tell concerned parents the same thing, many times.
It has worked. Not once have we changed assigned seats because a parent refused to have their child sit next to a certain person. Not once have we changed assigned seats because the kids couldn't stand each other. Not once have we changed assigned seats because the kids were a bad combination and were constantly getting in trouble together. We have persevered, and many times we have surprised each other.
So, how were seats assigned?
I literally drew names out of a can, every 3 weeks. The only condition was that the students could not have been "partners" before. No changing, fudging, do-overs, or whatever.
Were lessons learned, new friendships formed, enemies made friends? Of course. Throughout the year, and throughout the 21 years I have taught at this school, this is some of my best work. I know it.
15 days left in the school year, and in my teaching career.