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Entry date: 3-31-2022 - What a difference a seat makes - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


As a teacher, seating arrangements in class are like playing with a loaded weapon. Chew on that for a second. My day is impacted greatly by who is sitting next to whom. As I consider new combinations, I have to think about how it will change the dynamic of my class. I have recently made the decision to move one of my most problematic students to right next to my desk.


Pray for me (if you are so inclined).

*****

Think back to when you were in school. The person you sat next to in class could make our break your year. It could alter your life in good or bad ways. So much of our childhood, if you think about it, depended on who you sat next to at school.


I don’t remember who I sat next to in first grade. I was in Ms. Zeiger’s class (I think that was how you spelled it) at Madison Heights school on north 22nd Street. I have only a few memories of that year and none include who I sat next to, but I do remember that I was best friends with a guy named Craig. I wonder what happened to him. I do remember his mom was nice and we stayed friends through fourth or fifth grade.


Second grade, which is the grade I teach now, is more memorable. I was still at Heights and in Miss Grimstadt’s class. We called her “Miss” even though she seemed very old. I’m guessing she was close to 70, but who knows? I sat next to Alex B for much of the year and we became very good friends. We had a lot of dirt clod fights running around the portable buildings we were in that year. Alex and I were friends in junior high, too.


Third grade is also a blur for who I sat next to, but I’m guessing it was a guy named Steve for some of the year and a guy named Terry. We were still at Heights and most of my friends lived somewhere near Lincoln Drive. Craig was part of that crew, too. It was also a trio of teachers in a big room that could be separated by dividers. Interesting concept now that I look back at it. Meyers, Orr, and Wendt were the teachers’ names, and they were all very nice ladies.


I remember getting in a lot of trouble during third grade for fighting. I was an angry kid with a quick temper. I have a very clear memory of getting made at a kid during a football game. I was playing quarterback and he hiked the ball to me in a way I deemed unacceptable, so I beat him up pretty good. I remember our principal, Mr. Nelson, showing me the swelling on the other student’s face and asking me to explain why I hit him so many times. I didn’t have an answer, I guess, that was acceptable because my parents were called, and I got in trouble.


In fourth grade, I sat next to Roxanne. She was my firs real crush and I thought I was going to marry her. She had no clue about this, but I had good instincts and played it cool all year. Roxanne and I became friends and we must’ve not driven our teacher, Ms. Timlin crazy because she kept us at the same table. I think Ms. Timlin liked my dad a lot. I was at Madison Simis that year due to the Madison district shuffling school boundaries around. It made more sense, though, as it was way closer to my grandparents’ house.


In fifth grade, I was in Ms. Bebo’s class at Madison Meadows. I don’t think she liked me, and I don’t remember particularly liking her. I preferred my gifted teacher, Mrs. McCubbin, to Ms. Bebo, who kind of looked like a human mole. Not the skin mole, either. Mrs. McCubbin’s classroom was an escape hatch for one day each week and all the “smart” kids were in there. I probably risked my spot there on many occasions because I thought schoolwork was dumb. I also hated my classmates in Ms. Bebo’s class.


I remember sitting next to this girl, Xena, who was a giant. I think I may have slammed her head into the desk a few times one day for being mean to me. Again, bad temper and liked to fight. Terrible combination.


In sixth grade I was in Mrs. Ballard’s class, and I loved her. I think my friend Justin was in that class, too. I sat near a girl named Julie whose mom was the music teacher at Meadows. She called me “Damien” because I looked like the kid from the Omen. I hated her then, but she was much nicer later.


In seventh grade we started switching classes, so I sat next to a lot of people. I was still at Madison Meadows, and I don’t remember there being anyone particularly important to my life, although in computer class (we all had Apple 2’s to use), Alex (the same one from 2nd grade) and I came up with what was probably the precursor to fantasy basketball. We had a whole league planned out and we’re trying to write a program on the computer. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.


In eighth grade, I sat next to Roxanne again all year in Mr. Tajerle’s science class. I was in love with her all year again, but I played it cool, and we rekindled our friendship. She was a really good friend to me. No matter what way he switched up the seating during the year, Roxanne and I always ended up next to each other and we thought this was quite funny. When I moved to Camelback in my junior year, Roxanne was there, too, and she saved my bacon a bunch of times with good advice and friendship. She called me "Pickle" so I called her "Cucumber."

*****


I guess I should consider that my seating arrangements are changing my student’s lives. I hadn’t really considered that until now. It has been fun to watch friendships develop and change over this year so far. Maybe I can help my problem kiddo find a new friend… I hope so.


See you tomorrow.





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