Teachers use assigned seating in the classroom for many different reasons. It can help keep the class organized and match the way teachers input grades, take attendance, and collect work from students. It can help with overall classroom management by placing students who distract others closer to the teacher, minimizing the opportunity to be off task. Students, however, will inevitably request to change seats or choose where to sit. Are flexible seating charts right for your classroom?
Whether students can choose different seats every day, or if a constant rotation system is implemented, depends on two major factors: The effect of where students sit on the classwork and the ability for students to remain on task.
Starting the school year with assigned seats is a solid litmus test to determine which students struggle or are a distraction to others. Once they’ve fully aligned to the rules and expectations of the classroom, a test period can be implemented where students show they can continue to learn at the highest level in a flexible seating arrangement.
Group projects often require moving students to sit with a small group. Some teachers assign specific seats or areas for each group. This is a good opportunity to give students a sense of change, but still maintain authority over who sits where.
Ultimately, it’s the teacher’s discretion to determine if a flexible seating plan works in favor of the class’s goals and expectations. If you’re curious to see if it will work in your classroom, ensure students know the parameters and consequences, and give it a try. The students will appreciate the sense of autonomy and responsibility they’ve been given, and if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to assigned seats.