I don't have a"happy table", but 2 desks that I use in a similar way. When students cant seem to concentrate, I invite them to sit there, making it clear that it's not punishment if they choose to sit there before they get into trouble. At that point I usually also tell them that they can sit there next time by choice and it will still not be punishment. The same 2 desks are punishment desks if I have to tell them to sit there and they have distrubed other kids with their behavior. It's fun if thier teacher comes in and asks if there was a problem . I wink at the student and say "No." Smiles all around.
From: Jancy & Mike Cossin [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wed 7/23/2003 9:57 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: Has anyone tried these ideas?
Are they going to be like study carolls? That would never work in my room. We're very interactive. Cooperative grouping, etc. I encourage students to interact regarding their work. If it were me I would feel too isolated. You're right- middle schoolers are at a developmental stage when their social life is their whole life. I feel that the classroom environment needs to be based on those developmental levels. Maybe try some activities where having students interact is part of the activity. I think it would be harder to establish genuine respect because you would be starting out with an authoritarian style. One thing you'd have to deal with is notes and students writing graffiti on the cardboard, which you would have to monitor. When I answer questions at a table, I think a lot of times all students at that table look over and listen. I do, however have one table in the room where a student can go work if they are having trouble concentrating. I announce that at the beginning of the year with the following info:
1. That we all have bad days and if you are having one- if you can't concentrate, don't feel well, are angry at someone and need to cool down, or just don't feel like being around others- I expect you to quietly tell me and you can go sit over there at any time during our class.
2. You can do so for a few minutes, or for an entire class period, but not for days at a time.
I pose this as an alternative to getting in trouble and they have to make the choice of what will happen. This works GREAT for emotionally disturbed students (we have a unit of them) because they are already being trained in self crisis management. Regular ed students use it frequently too. It works very well. The funny thing is, is that kids who have had me the previous year come in and say "Where's the happy desk?"