Kids Sitting Still

Today in my subbing job there was an assembly for the school. It was a basketball game consisting of staff vs. 5th graders. Yes, a very entertaining and exciting break from the normal routine of the school day.

My first-graders had reviewed the rules for assembly behavior, practiced being quiet and walking in a consistent line. I had to practice that because I didn’t want to risk losing them or herding some other class away.

Although the event was close to an hour long, the class was well-behaved. It is tough to sit still for so long even if the event is quite amusing. Yes, some kids were squirming around a bit (so was I) and one boy in particular had a tough time being very still. He was sitting at the edge of the row, and wasn’t bothering anybody, so I wasn’t too concerned.

The teacher who was behind me apparently cannot tolerate kids moving around. She kept nudging the boy and urging him to stop moving. After several attempts at this, she told him to stand up to the side (where the teachers were) so the squirming would be eliminated. Well, this boy is not a sitter, or a stander, because he kept shifting from one foot to the other, and leaning on a chair, or stepping over to the side, and eventually I told him that he could sit down if he could try to sit still. Lo and behold, this teacher immediately starts tapping him to remind him to quit moving and sit still! 

This frustrated me. First, because the teacher was undermining my authority as a substitute teacher and thinking I cannot handle my class. Second, because the boy wasn’t being a distraction to anybody except to that teacher. Third, I feel the expectations should be lenient enough where children are allowed to shift and move around in their seats to a reasonable degree, especially when considering the length of time they are expected to sit.

Obviously it’s nice to have kids sitting still and listening quietly and not being a bother. However, this incident helped me realize that oftentimes we (by we, I mean teachers or other people dealing with kids) forget that they truly are children, and want to move around, and sitting still for long periods of time is a major challenge. I hope I keep that perspective in mind and not ever get hung up that I want kids to be like robots.



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