Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Word About the Seating Chart

Dear Students,

It's time, once again, to change seats!  I know how much you all look forward to this day, and I know how important, albeit temporary, this arrangement will be for you.  Actually, I know quite a bit about more about making the seating chart than you think I do.

Trust me.  I know who your best friends are, and I know that in a perfect world, you would get to sit next to them every single day in every single class.  And, even though you turn on your powers of persuasion every time, you know that I will simply not allow for that to happen.  It's not that I have anything against you or your best friend.  Really, I like you both.  But, as your teacher, I know better. 

First of all, you and I both know that if you sat next to each other, you would get little else done besides talk or whisper or giggle or pass notes or make paper airplanes.  And, truthfully, I could tolerate all of those things on a good day.  What I can not and will not tolerate, however, is you growing up believing that the only people with whom you're able to work and get along are the people who are just like you.

You see, the real world isn't all that different than your middle school world.  (Actually, it is different.   And it's much better.  But stay with me here.)  Even in the workplace, there are equivalents of the bully, the smelly kid, the teacher's pet, the lazy kid, the kid who dresses weirdly, the outspoken kid, and the overly emotional kid.  They might be your bosses, they might be your co-workers, or they might be your clientele.  And even in the workplace, we are expected to politely tolerate these kinds of people. At work, however, if we choose not to get along with those with whom we work, our consequences are significantly more severe than what yours would be. 

Hear me clearly on this.  If you end up sitting next to one of those kids who struggles in one way or another (with academics, with social skills, with emotions, with behavior, or with hygeine), you should take it as a compliment.  I know, I know... it's hard for you to see it that way.  But truly, I have put you in that spot for a very specific reason.  It is because I think so highly of you that out of all the students in the class, you are the one who is best equipped to manage that less-than-ideal situation.  And, rest assured, we will be changing seats again in a few weeks, at which time I'll be giving you a "break" so to speak.  I promise.

So, next time we change seats and you don't like where you sit, please don't accuse me of not caring about you.  And certainly, don't do anything at all to make your new neighbor feel in any way embarrassed, excluded, or inferior.  Instead, remember this:  I care about you so much that I want to sit you in the best possible spot to help you learn.  I want to do everything I can to set you up for success in a location that will allow you to focus 100 percent on the task-at-hand.  And more than that, I care about your future.  I care so much that I will do everything in my power to give you exposure to as many different kinds of people as possible.  Because in the real world, your ability to empathize, tolerate, communicate, cooperate, collaborate, problem-solve, and manage conflict will likely consume more of your time than anything else.

With that, I hope you'll embrace this seating chart and make the most of the opportunity that you have before you.  Get to know your neighbor, offer your help when you can, take a deep breath when you need to, and ask me for help if you need it.  I believe in you, and I know you can make this work!

All my best,
Ms. Diehl