I've been thinking a lot about control in my classroom. What do I want to control? Where do I want to let go of control?
Over 12 years of teaching my views on control have changed quite a bit. To an outsider I think it would look as though I control very little (for better or for worse). My first graders do not have assigned seats. In fact, our tables are at different heights so that they can sit on the floor, in chairs, or stand while they work. Clipboards are available to them anytime they want to use them as are various other surfaces (student desk that was planned as a 'thinking spot', a teacher desk that was planned for my fabulous co-teachers, small table our amazing librarian passed on to me knowing of the various options in my room). The students have taken over the physical space in the room. They work where they want and with whomever they want.
I retain control over some obvious aspects. I move kids when they aren't able to work because they are bugging another or unable to stop chatting about karate class during a read aloud. I move kids in line if needed so that we can walk respectfully past other classes. I'm totally in charge of our schedule (well, more than the kids are anyway - I don't have total control here either).
The most important thing I control now is in the shadows. I work hard to offer my students experiences that will scaffold learning for them. I think hard about exactly how to present something or which experience needs to follow which in order to build schema in a way that will set them up for the future. I control this in the hopes of maximizing the time we have together. I don't want to waste a minute.
I think a lot more about this area than I do where kids sit or who they work with in a group. I couldn't do that ten years ago. I'm grateful for the experience that has allowed me to focus on what I think is truly important.
Image from planegeezer on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10261531@N05/2197822659/