From Dr. James Sutton, your CBN host: Personal space and boundary issues can kindle classroom disruption. Youngsters of all ages differ in the amount of space they need around them in order to be comfortable. It’s not a matter of how things “look,” it’s a matter of how things “feel.” Added to this is the fact that some students don’t need much distraction at all before they unravel. In situations like this, the prevention of problems is the preferred way to go … and it preserves everyone’s sanity.
(This is not just an issue with children and adolescents. I spent two years in Japan when I was in the service. I lived in a Japanese-style house near Yokohama; four families lived within arm’s length. I survived, of course, but I NEVER got use to it.)
While on a training trip to Florida a number of years ago, I picked up this idea from a teacher there.
Karen Ledet shared a great idea with me; she called it The Privacy Desk. Although this intervention often is used with students who can be “delicate” emotionally and behaviorally, Karen presents The Privacy Desk as a positive alternative only. Here’s how she describes it:
Unassigned desks or small work tables are placed along perimeter walls to provide privacy (not punishment) for students who are having difficulty working next to others, are off-task, or experience moments of distress. These desks or tables are NOT used for full-time seating. On occasion, I might “recommend” a move, but mostly students decide to do it on their own.
Angry students especially seem to enjoy having a place to “cool down” without a big commotion. Most of the time their work is completed and they return to their regular seat.
Low attention is given to this. The Privacy Desk idea needs to be presented as something to help them be successful, not a place to be sent when they are in trouble.
Karen went on to share with me that she never uses a traditional teacher’s desk in her classroom. Instead, she has a long table. One end of the table is cleared off, available as another Privacy Desk spot.