Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Seating Plan

I want to keep this edition of Teaching Tip Tuesday fairly short. I think teachers should be helping each other by sharing what works with them and their classrooms. I hope you have found my past columns here helpful. Please email me or leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts, or if you would like to be a guest poster here one day.

Today I would like to discuss the seating plan that so many principals seem to want us classroom teachers to do.

Here is my advice on seating plans;

1) Don’t have one.

2) Move the students and their desks around frequently.

3) The teacher desk should be placed at the back of the room. This allows all of the students to get closer to the board and the front of the room for instruction.

I think these three things are very important. Students do not want to be in the same place all of the year. I generally switch things up every four or five weeks.

I sometimes have the students sit in traditional rows and columns. Other times, I will have them sitting with a partner or in their squad groups. I have put all the desks in a circle or in two semi-circle arcs before as well.

Moving the desks around frequently is not a hard task. It helps if every desk is labeled. I usually put nametags on the front of the desks with the students’ names and numbers written on them. These tags are big enough that the teacher can see them from the front of the classroom. This way, if I am away for a day, it doesn’t matter where the desks are, the supply teacher will be able to know all of my students’ names without looking at a seating plan.

When the kids are sitting in their squads, I don’t care which desk they sit at either. The squads have their posters to identify who is in each group and I also put this information on the class schedule and my clipboard day planner.

I like the freedom of not having a seating plan. It keeps things fresh and interesting in the classroom. The students don’t seem to mind either. Some of them actually look forward to the next rearrangement and ask me, “When are you going to move the desks again?”

So try it out, switch things up in your class. You might be surprised how such a small change can make a big difference.

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