The seating plan can be one of the most powerful resources available to a teacher, especially on the first day with a new class. By being prepared with a seating plan you show them straight away who’s in charge and that learning is the business of the day. This is a key moment when meeting a class. It can also be helpful when learning their names as you have a map of your classroom. The key question though, is how do you make a seating plan effective?
First, you need to decide the layout of the children’s school desks. Do you want rows, individual tables, groups or a horseshoe?
There are many pros and cons of each layout. The important thing to consider when placing school desks is how do you want the students to be learning and working? Do you want a collaborative environment involving discussion and group work? If so, group tables will be ideal. If however, you have a challenging class or the lessons are aimed at independent study, then traditional rows of student desks may be more suitable.
Once you have figured out what type of environment and layout you want in your classroom you face the hardest part of creating a seating plan. Who should sit where? It can be the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle. She can’t sit near him… He needs to be sat at the front…etc. So, here are two top tips to help with creating a powerful seating plan.
1. Display their grades and learning support whilst you create the seating plan - The last thing you want to do is create a row or table which is full of gifted students, and then find yourself with another table of weaker students who will need all of your attention. Whatever software you choose, the data can help create a well-balanced arrangement.
2. Display their attitude to learning - This must be one of the best pieces of advice to surface through discussion. Rate the pupils on the seating plan. Red = very disruptive; Orange = mildly disruptive/chatty; Green = no problems.
Firstly, place the red students as far apart from each other as possible. Then place them with a green student. Finally, you fill in the gaps with the oranges. Fingers crossed you have a reasonably well-balanced seating plan with students desks arranged to the benefit of their learning.
So, think carefully. How powerful are your seating plans?