Opinions - New Seating Plan

Discussion in 'General Education' started by JimG, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    Sep 15, 2019

    9th grade math - 16 students in groups of 4 is what I currently have. Students were assigned their seats at the beginning of the school year. This is my first year having the students in groups instead of some form of rows and columns, and with this particular class, it has been a major struggle with some groups not getting along nor being productive, as well as getting every student’s focus when it is time for direct instruction. No matter what new seating chart I come up with, I don’t foresee it resolving all of those issues. There is also currently one group of students who work really well together, and one of them asked me if they could stay together as a group when I change up the seating chart. I told this student I would think about it, but in my head, I had already determined that that wouldn’t fly.

    My plan: Since my classroom size supports up to eight groups, and this is a class about half that size, I am thinking of splitting them into two-to-three student teams. The idea with this is that it will be easier to get their full attention when I need it, as there will only be two-to-three people involved in each intra-group conversation as opposed to four, meaning less distractions/competition for attention. I also plan to let students choose their teams with three stipulations: (1) Every student has new group members, meaning no two students are in a new group who were already together in a previous group. (2) Every team has two to three members; there are no lone wolves and no teams of four. (3) I reserve the right to partially or fully modify the seating selection if at any point I judge that things are not working out. My hope is that by giving them some choice in their groups, students will be more likely to own their behavior for fear of being moved. Additionally, with me throwing them a bone in the manner of allowing some choice, I think they will feel that I am treating them more maturely and start to subconsciously try to act more mature. I wouldn’t do this with every class, but call it a gut feeling with this class; I figure worst case scenario, I have to reassign seats in a week and am back to square one.

    If you have read this far, here is what I would appreciate from you. Either (a) offer me suggestions to try to improve this plan I have so that it goes more smoothly, or (b) poke all the holes you want in the plan and tell me why it is a stupid idea. Right now, I am thinking of implementing this plan on Monday, but maybe there are things I am overlooking and I should not do it.

    Thank you so much! I love that we can professionally exchange ideas on this forum.
     
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  3. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Sep 15, 2019

    I change seating almost weekly in some of my classes. There's no need to overthink it. If you think they need to move seats, move them. Sometimes I let them choose, sometimes I choose for them. Be prepared for students to ask if they can sit/work alone. With that small of a class size, even working whole group is a pretty small group.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Sep 15, 2019

    I have to reread the entire post again, because I kind of found myself pondering why you would have trouble keeping a group together that is working really well together. Will that seem like a perk to others in the class? Maybe, but one that has been earned by doing the work well as a group, as opposed to being non-productive and unwilling to work well with others. I don't know your age/grade level, but at some point there is a place for giving real world answers to situations. Hence, "yes, I will consider keeping your group intact because you have found ways to work together and do the work that was assigned." Other groups that would like the same privilege would have to show the same productivity and lack of drama.

    I mostly teach late MS and HS students, and I feel by that time frame, it is time to also teach that actions have consequences, good and bad. I think that many times we concentrate on fixing the poor consequences without putting just as much concern on showing that good consequences come with certain rewards. Even if it isn't verbalized, actions can get the message across.

    Reread the post - this is HS - I think you are overthinking this, and punishing the group that works well and is productive. Isn't that a bad message to send? Do well and you still get punished? Just something to think about.

    My solution would be to keep re-configuring the students who are not productive/attentive until they notice that doing what they are told has its own reward. Nothing every has to be said about why that group of four is untouched - give them a chance to figure it out for themselves. These aren't elementary students, and it is time for them to realize you can work with others even when they aren't your best friends - maybe even better than if they are your best friends. I would be honest when they asked - they deserve to face reality.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 15, 2019

    My students choose their own seats on Day 1. We have now finished 2 weeks of school and there will be some changes tomorrow. The groups that have been working well together will be able to stay together but the others will see some changes.
     
  6. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    Sep 15, 2019

    I understand the concern about breaking up that good group of four, and perhaps I will need to rethink my plans regarding that. I guess my main concerns with splitting everyone else up but leaving that group untouched is I don’t want to appear to show favoritism. I think doing a hard reset is the way to go, since I do not think the behavior problems will be solved by only moving a few kids.
     
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  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Sep 15, 2019

    Any teacher who recognizes that a group is working together and being productive is no more showing favoritism than the teacher who states that the groups are not working well together and therefore not being productive. Don't be afraid to visibly hold the bar higher and to expect work to achieve the lofty goals.
     
  8. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Sep 15, 2019

    I just had a thought to throw in here. Before allowing them to switch groups, can you have them discuss and/or write down what they think a good group would be like? What would they bring to the group? Do they have skills that could help the group? 1 may be a good writer, public speaker, leader, or team player. What would they want others to act like or do in their group? Do voice levels impact them?
    That way, it may not be all about personalities and friendships. It will make them think about how to form a better group, what they can bring to the group, and what they want from other group members.
    You could even make up a quick assignment that will require people with different strengths to show them how their group can help them.
    I'd keep the group of 4 in tact for the same reason stated above.
    1 concern I'd have (probably because I teach younger kids) is that certain kids will usually never get picked by anyone. Some of these kids may learn a lesson like : Bossy people are not wanted in groups. Still there are others who are shy. I have had kids who were dirty ( no running water at home/ not their faults...) and feel bad that no1 ever wants to work with that kid. Good luck! I am constantly changing things up too! :)
     
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