For the last five or six years, my wife and I kept a broken-down office chair in the corner of our dining room. It mostly held piles of mail and other, not-quite-ready-to-throw-out debris, until the holidays, when it was pressed into service for extra seating. This was somewhat problematic, because it doesn't have any working springs in the back, so an unsuspecting diner might accidentally fly backward onto the floor in a puddle of coleslaw. I had particular relatives I always tried to seat in it.

Last spring, we finally decided to get rid of it, so I brought it to school, figuring that some student with a penchant for dangerous living might get a kick out of it.

That turns out to have been a massive understatement.

For the past nine or ten months, each class period has started with an almost ritual squabble over who gets dibs on the "good" chair.

Because I'm not very bright, it took me several months to figure out how to use this to my advantage. 

A couple of years ago, I had the idea of awarding deserving students with a treat - a Cupcake of Tenacity™ - that I could use to recognize consistent effort. Unfortunately, I could never remember to award the cupcakes with any kind of consistency and I eventually just let the whole idea settle into my dustbin of good intentions.

Slowly though, ever so slowly, another idea slowly started to grow in the back of my mind. 

(It's tempting to compare it to a tiny seed sprouting and pushing its way to the surface, but in my case, a more apt metaphor is a layer of mold growing on forgotten left-overs in the back of a sub-par refrigerator.)

One morning, as I watched a couple of students face off over my broken-down office chair, I heard myself say, "What you you guys do if you ever had a GOOD chair to fight over?"


Over Christmas Vacation, I spent a couple of days tracking down leads on Craig's List for chairs that might have even more status than the EEFC (see above).

My original thought was something like a vinyl easy chair - the sort of chair you might find in a library. (I remembered buying one of these with a young friend many years ago at a thrift store for about ten dollars.)

As it turns out, there are a LOT of people eager to sell used chairs, but surprisingly few (okay, I guess not THAT surprising...) who want to unload good-condition library chairs for virtually nothing.

In the end, I found this leather office chair for twenty dollars.

It's a little low to the ground, but it's extremely comfortable and even reclines slightly.

Each Friday, I've announced the student in each class who gets to sit in it for the next week. Chair Privileges do not necessarily go to the student with the best grades or even the best behavior. They go to students who have put in a solid effort and demonstrated tenacity in their desire to learn.

To say that the Status Chair has been well-received would be a massive understatement. The looks on the faces of the students who have been publicly awarded Chair Privileges range from furious blushing to genuine shock. By the end of his or her Chair Week, each student has made a big show of leaning back with his or her hands laced behind their head and a "It's good to be King" expression on his or her face.

Will this lead to more tenacity and a better work-ethic in my students? Time will tell. I do know this, though - my classroom has gotten a LOT more popular for meetings after school and one of the other teachers always gets to the Status Chair before I do.