Assigned seating or not?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by a teacher, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I use the seating chart in my grading program (Genesis). I then project it to the class when I want them to change their seats.
     
  2. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I honestly don't have much more of a challenge with students having off-topic conversations if they choose their seats than if I do. I let the students know that there will be many opportunities in my classroom to collaborate with others, but that one of the main expectations I have of them is that they are quiet when someone (anyone) is addressing the class. If the conversations become a challenge, I don't hesitate to move seats--in the middle of a lesson if need be.

    As far as a digital seating chart--I don't use a specific program. I create a template in Google Sheets (or Excel) and change names around as needed.
     
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  3. mckbearcat48

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    One of my very good friends who is far more tech-savvy than I am created her own program for seating charts based on Excel. It was really cool because she had 2 versions: the daily sub sheet and a second sheet with notes on each student that she used in creating her lessons. I plan on using it if I get a classroom, because more knowledge is more power.
     
  4. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    I never liked it when my teacher allowed students to choose sides for dodgeball. Best and most popular were chosen first. Runts were last. The teacher could have created a plan to prevent this but, instead, left it up to the students.

    Most experts agree a reason many teachers have discipline problems is because they have a hand in creating them. In terms of classroom management, seating is something a teacher can do proactively before students arrive. If the goal is to create a classroom environment with as few distractions-interruptions as possible no one should apologize for trying to prevent socializing with neighbors, the number one discipline problem in any classroom.

    Given the choice, most students do not choose a seat for learning. They choose a seat for socializing. Now that they are sitting next to their friend and talking guess who will have to put a stop to the gab fest? If you give away the furniture you will have to deal with discipline problems you helped create. It is not their classroom. It is not their furniture. On the first day of school everything you do will either send message "This is a work class" or "In this class you get to kick-back and do your thing".
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
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  5. yellowdaisies

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    I don't teach secondary, but I let my 5th graders choose their seats - they switch multiple times a day. I also have flexible seating, so the "seats" vary from chairs at tables to a couch to beanbags on the floor.

    It works for me.

    I say do what works for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
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  6. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    One of the major reasons I just don't let the kids pick their seats, even on the first day, is because I want to set the expectation that I will be the one to assign their seats. When they come into your class and don't know anything else, they won't complain when you put them somewhere. They don't know you yet and they won't sass. If I let them choose their seat the first couple of days, and then try to move them, chances are that I will hear, "But why? I will be good! We won't talk." I don't want to hear any of those complaints or promises I know they can't keep. It's a time waster to me. And even though I have great relationships with my kids, I still want them to know I'm doing what is best for them and I don't enjoy arguing.
    Am I heartless? Absolutely not. For the most part I truly try to group them with people they enjoy being around. (After I've gotten to know them). But I'll only group them together if I know that they are capable of working responsibly together.
     
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  7. a teacher

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    I think these posts from Loomis and Mr. are right on point. I am surprised so many teachers are willing to a) give up control and b) set up an argument. One of the things I have had the most confrontation on from students is the seat choice. That is, telling a kid they need to change their seat and their not complying. Or moving into a seat without asking. This is all about socializing, not learning. In response to the poster who mentioned IEP kids sitting where they know they need to, that is also wrong. They, like all the other kids, will either sit a) with their friends, b) in the back of the room, or c) choose a random seat.

    I think what I will do this time is label the desks alphabetically before they come in. But rather than writing them out, which is a waste of time, I will simply print their names off my roster, cut them out and drop them on the desks. Anyone foresee a problem with that method?
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I guess it comes down to mindset. I don't feel the need to "control" my students. Creating a positive learning environment and a relationship with my students helps to manage behaviour. That's not to say that there are never any challenges, there are, but almost none of the conflicts I've had with students have resulted from where they are sitting.
     
  9. a teacher

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    That's extremely unusual. I guess you have been lucky.
     
  10. a teacher

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    But not a chance worth taking! You are not controlling your students, you are controlling your learning environment, rather than giving students the opportunity to mess up.
     
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  11. 2ndTimeAround

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    I have my students seated alphabetically, by last name. I keep these seats until I have learned names.

    My desks are numbered. While students are walking in on the first few days, I have their names projected on the board, next to the seat number. They simply read their name and find their seat.

    I do want to "control" my students' behavior. So I have no issues in them feeling like I'm bossing them around when it comes to seat assignment.

    I always leave two front seats (if I have them!) empty in the event that someone has a need to sit there instead. On the first day's paperwork I specifically ask for IEP/504 information because it won't be made available to me for a while. Like another poster mentioned, seldom does an IEP specify a front seat.
     
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  12. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    I love this response. It isn't about us being "control" freaks. It's about us being the adults in the room. If the kids knew what was best for them, why do they need us? Here's the thing. Perhaps with the right group of kids, who have the intrinsic motivation to learn, and the helicopter parents at home that will complain about a B, then yeah. It wouldn't matter as much where you sit them.

    But when you teach intensive students who for the most part hate literature, hate school, have been made to feel like failures, and need a push to succeed, letting them pick their seat just doesn't work.
     
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  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    No, not at all. Sometimes they try to challenge, but then I shut it down restating that they don't own the furniture nor the space they occupy in the room and I will move them if I see a need. By that time they will have been warned, so moving them is simply a consequence they see as only fair.
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Why do you automatically assume that teachers who are more flexible on the seating give up control and set up arguments??
    As far as I can see all teachers chiming in here have been teaching for at least a few years, a lot of them a lot longer. This works for them, without giving up control.
    You might be giving up your control if you do this, so I would suggest against it, but there are no reasons for false assumptions and judgments
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  15. dgpiaffeteach

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    My class sizes next year range from 5-18. I teach in a school where kids are very respectful overall. I've never had a problem with my system. I've had to move kids before and they're fine with it. I'm very lucky with where I teach. At a different school, I would likely do things differently.
    I also run my class in a way where there's a lot of time for them to work together. My direct teaching might add up to 20 minutes a week. Maybe. Otherwise it's small group, independent work, group work, etc... We do a lot of whole class discussions about our reading.
    What works for one teacher may not work for another. You need to decide what's going to work for you.
     
  16. a teacher

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    Whether they see it as fair or not, many will challenge the teacher at that point or become defiant and not move without the threat of a consequence. Why hassle with that?
     
  17. a teacher

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    Wrong. They are not assumptions. I am speaking from knowledge gained from experience.
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oh. here we go again. You are making assumptions, otherwise what do you know? Have you been to these teachers' classrooms and observed how they gave away control??

    It's always the same thing with you.
    1. you ask for help / advice and you actually open up a great opportunity for discussion and exchange of ideas by a range of professionals.
    2. then you dismiss everyone who doesn't fit your criteria of a great idea
    3. you actually state (usually negative) things about them, and their practices, making it look like you know it all / seen it all and you're better than all.

    such a turn off, I don't even know why I bother.
    and if you are speaking from knowledge and experience, why are you eve asking about assigned seats? You should know what to do and it should work perfect since you're the perfect teacher, right??
     
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  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    For me it is not a hassle and not a problem. Just because it would be for you, don't assume that about other people.
     
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  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Obviously, all of us do not have the same experiences. Different does not mean less valuable.
     
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  21. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Every teacher is different. There's nothing wrong with assigning them seats -- whether you do it randomly? Alphabetically? However. There's no right or wrong answer. It's your classroom and those are your kids. It depends on the grade you teach and the kids in your classroom. I taught third grade so they needed to be more directed than maybe the MS/HS kids do. But even with my kids, I could have let some of them pick their own seats and they would have been fine. They knew when it was time to talk and when it wasn't. And I had some talkers. Oh boy! :rofl:

    Maybe you try it YOUR way and offer it as a reward to allow them to choose their own seats if/when they earn it?

    There's a lot more to worry about than just seating. Mine never even stayed consistent all year anyway. I was constantly moving the seats -- in terms of how the desks were arranged and the students' assignments. By the end I ended up with the horse-shoe and instructed them from the carpet anyway so if I needed to, I'd send the talkers back to sit by themselves. And then we'd move on with the lesson. I will say that I probably will assign spots on the carpet in the future because THAT was a problem.
    :)
     
  22. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    No technique comes with a guarantee. Whether assigned seating or student choice there is always a chance any student will backtalk. Cooperation and time on task are far more complicated than a seating chart.

    Your notion about trying to prevent discipline problems from occurring is sound. Generalizing because teachers do not assign seating they can expect backtalk is not. Example: Many teachers are experts in using proximity. They may have fewer disruptions in spite of student choice seating because they are constantly moving among and between students. Preventing talking can be viewed as a "system" of techniques that, together, and used correctly help to increase student engagement. This is why effective teachers are constantly trying to increase their repertoire of skills, never assuming they have found "it" rather a large cupboard of "it" to choose from.
     
  23. a teacher

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    Don't respond if you are going to make assumptions. You usually miss the point anyway.
     
  24. a teacher

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    I'm not assuming. I am stating fact. If you understood students' mentalities better you wouldn't be so confused about what I am saying.
     
  25. a teacher

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    We are not talking about guarantees. What we are talking about are odds. The odds are much higher that you will have disruption earlier and more frequently when you let them sit with friends. This is a simple fact. It seems the only rationale for allowing them to choose their own seats is that it is either a) a reward, or b) it makes them like you more or like the class more. And it is also a simple fact that when a student gets the idea that they have a certain kind of choice such as seating because they are entitled to it (because too many of their teachers let them choose) they are more likely to argue about a seat change and be confrontational. Lastly, the teachers choice will always be better for the students learning than the students choice, except in rare cases when it may be of the same value.
     
  26. a teacher

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    This sounds workable, but what's the specific method you use? Do you project your roster? Are the names big enough to see? Do you write numbers on index cards and leave them loose on the table or tape them down? How exactly do you set it up?
     
  27. jadorelafrance

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    I do this and I project the seating chart on the board. The chart has their names and pictures and I write a number next to their name. They find the number on their desk. Now they can look at the chart and see where they are seated without numbers, but it's confusing because it looks backwards since it is projected.
     
  28. jadorelafrance

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    I too prefer to have assigned seats for the reasons you mentioned and it's much easier to learn names that way. I let seniors pick their seats last year and it was not a good idea. Won't be doing that again...
     
  29. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I don't understand this thread. If you had already made up your mind that not assigning seats is a terrible practice, then why did you call the thread "Assigned seating or not?" If you only wanted ideas for how to tell students their seats on the first day, fine, then say so from the beginning.

    Linguist is an excellent teacher who works wonders with students many teachers would consider too difficult to reach. I have nothing but respect for her and always enjoy her contributions to this board. If flexible seating works for her, then great! If it doesn't work for you, fine, don't do it. I don't understand the problem. Teachers don't have to and should not do everything the same way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  30. a teacher

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    I originally wanted to know how many assign and how many don't assign seats. I was surprised how many just let the kids sit where they want. Nobody who lets kids sit where they want has provided an argument for it's value, so it seems to be a poor approach.

    Then I asked about methods for getting them their assigned seats.
     
  31. MissCeliaB

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    I start with kids in alphabetical order. I write numbers in the desks with dry erase markers, then project an alphabetical class list on the board. Students come in, find their number, find their desk. I do this for the first few days because rosters change so much and I'm bad with names. After the first week or so I put them in a more permanent arrangement.
     
  32. Leaborb192

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    I don't think the discussion is about "value," per se, it's all about what works best for YOU and your students in YOUR classroom. If I can let my kids pick their seats and they can still focus and stay engaged in the lessons, cool. And yes I did have it so I know first hand that it's possible. Randomly assigning seats, alphabetically, boy-girl, etc., may not necessarily be the "best" (whatever that means) method either. Sure it helps take some of the "control" and decision making away from the kids, which can be good or bad. Sometimes students can't handle having choice like that, and sometimes they can. I don't think there's an argument for either side. It's all anecdotal evidence at this point. Even "best practices" books may not be too helpful because every class is different. It's about setting the tone and culture of your room. Hell some of my kids could pick their own seats and some there's NO WAY I would leave it to chance.
    ;)

    Also:
    [​IMG]
     
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  33. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    I agree the odds favor fewer disruptions when students are not just assigned random seats rather placed where they and others can work with fewest distractions. This speaks to those teachers who don't assign seats the first day. Instead they watch and take note of talking to neighbors. Then they move. It also points to teachers who understand random seating - alphabetically; # etc. - does not guarantee final placement. As often happens some students end up together by luck of the draw. In any event, whether assigned or choice, the question might be "Is what I'm doing increasing cooperation and time on task?" If the answer is "Yes" then run with it.

    As far as students arguing over seating research based data collected in scores of classrooms suggest backtalk has more to do with a student's perception of the teacher than where they sit. In some classrooms teachers couldn't get students to sit in their assigned seats to begin with let alone move them when asked.
     
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  34. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Twice in the past few years, I have had students who should not--ever--be sitting together. Not because they got along too well, but because they detested each other so much that it was more of a disruption than friends socializing ever has been. Given a choice, they separated themselves and let their teachers know why. However, if they were assigned a place alphabetically (first or last name), by birthday, or alphabetically boy/girl, they were together.

    Allowing students some choice in their seats, especially in the first couple of days, doesn't mean that all is a free-for-all. In my room, it's one of the many ways I get to know my students (and they get to know me and where I draw the line).
     
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  35. linswin23

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    There's a kid like this in every class, lol! Love this meme!
     
  36. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Or kids. And it doesn't matter if you assign them seats or let them decide. It's who they are.
     
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  37. linswin23

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    Yup...I had classes like this in middle school. Making a seating chart was like playing chess.
     
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  38. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I always think it is good to start with assigned seats even in high school. Then after 1 week or more there is nothing wrong with letting them choose their seats IF that is what you want. They will see it as a privilege while if they get free seating from Day 1, they'll see it as a right.
     
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  39. TeacherNY

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    I think it depends on the individual classroom so i'm sure there's no right/wrong way to do it. When I taught middle school we always had assigned seats. When I subbed, I noticed the class behaved better when there was assigned seating (but that's just a sub observation). My special ed students now are low functioning and don't do much academic work but I also need assigned seating for them. Some complain about where I tell them to sit and some don't. It really just depends on the class/students!!
     
  40. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Each one of us needs to make our own professional decisions about what practices we will use in our classroom and be able to reflect about whether or not they are effective for our students. There is no one-size-fits-all where teaching is concerned (how boring would that be!?). I know that my practices won't work for everyone (or even for the teacher across the hall), but they work for me. When they stop working, I'll re-evaluate and make some changes.
     

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