Classroom Management

The pros and cons of assigned seating.

Ah, the seating chart. Spawning many a sleepless night for the teacher and many an enmity among students. Okay, okay, or friendship.

Maybe you've got rows. Maybe you've got a bunch of desks side-to-side in a great big semicircle. Maybe you've got groups of four-ish. Maybe you listened to our physical classroom advice and you have a room that can adapt to all of the above.

However the desks are arranged, things get more complicated when the time comes for students to sit in them. So we're here to tell you the single, sure-fire way to ensure that the way your students sit will be quiet, conflict-free, and conducive to learning. And when you're done lobotomizing them, we know a good lawyer or two you may want to get cozy with.

But for real.

There may not be one way that's guaranteed to make your seating arrangement go off without a hitch, and hey, there probably isn't just one arrangement that'll work within your class. So what we're really here for is to run through a few ways other teachers have done it, with the bottom line that it all comes down to your classroom, your students, and your preferences.

And if your preference is the lobotomy route, then, well, you're on your own.

Assign Seats Alphabetically

Going the alphabetical route is a good way to show that you're the one in charge of the seat map, but you're not playing any favorites in the way you divide up the young 'uns.

The pro: you still get some semblance of order by taking control of where people sit. And if all the B's work really well together, bully for you.

The con: There's no changing the alphabet. So if Tommy Tucker and Tucker Tomson can't stop shoving each other, you're kind of stuck.

Sure, you can always start off alphabetically and make adjustments as needed. But then you're just moving closer to the behavioral model. So let's dive on into that.

Assign Beats Behaviorally

At first this seems like the golden ticket. Keep the class clowns separate, create groups (or pairs, or lines, or whatever) that won't clash, and all that's left to do is teach. Easy, right?

Well, is it ever? The first complication is this: do you group together all the quiet kids in one spot, the mathletes somewhere else, and try to keep the noisy folk as dispersed as you possibly can? Or is it better to even it out?

Oh, also, you may get accused of playing favorites (or least favorites) based on some students loving their spot and others feeling like they're isolated from friends, near a bully, unable to have their voice heard, or next to the AC that they swear is the reason they couldn't hear you assign the homework on Wednesday.

So you could mathematically determine the ideal arrangement of a couple hard-workers to balance out a troublemaker and inspire an introvert—and that theory will just flop in practice. Why? Because students are human. And if they think they're being seated unfairly, they just may find a way to rebel.

Assign Seats Groupally

Divide 'em up into three, four, five, or as you see fit, and tell them where in the room to mosey on over to. To mute potential mutiny, add a semblance of free choice by letting them choose how to sit within the group. If you present this as an opportunity, call them teams, and let each come up with a team name (or color, animal, Backstreet Boy, you name it), you head off some of those potential behavior probs at the pass ( source ).

What have you just done? You've created heterogeneous groups in way that'll keep discipline problems distributed across the room (we hope) and provided fun little distractions so no one can get too huffy about having their friends across the room.

The cherry on top of group seating arrangements? Switching them up.

Which brings us to…

Reassign Seats.

Every month. Every two weeks. Every time a kid calls you bae. Whatever.

The point with constantly shaking up the assignment is to be sure that the students have a chance to work with all of their peers. And to avoid some of the problems that came up in the behavioral section, just don't let them stick around long enough to be a thing.

You already created a team, let them pick their own seats at their team table, and had them come up with a team name. Awesome. Bonding sauce. Chances are, even the ones who were whiniest about their team in the first place will be at least a little sad to disperse. But by keeping it moving, you provide the ones who got a little sick of their pencil-tapping teammates a sigh of relief. Plus, we can't over-emphasize the thing of letting them work with all their peers throughout the year.

That way, however many teams you go through during the school year, by the time it ends the whole class'll feel like one big team.

Assign Seats at Different Times of the Day

Especially if you're working differentiated instruction into your classroom, you want to have a space that can adapt easily to a range of projects, working arrangements, and group vs. individual study. If that's the case (or if it's not, but you like this idea anyway), come up with something like "home-base seating" (or something less dorky-sounding) that you can call out to get your youth in order—and quick.

Whether they start and end each day that way, or it's just a way to do a thing quickly (for say, attendance), or it's something you rarely use because you're so gung-ho with the student-choice model, it can be a good tool for your back pocket.

Option Z: Don't Assign Seats

Yeah, even after the brilliant shifting team idea. And the home-base thing, which we know you ignored.

We still have to play devil's advocate. Or at least, you know, go through all the options.

Let's be real. Assigning seats is kind of increasingly optional as the students get older. Sure, you may have some disciplinary reasons or a range in ability (whether in concentration, calculus prowess, etc.) that gives you a reason to keep assigning all the way up. Or maybe you just like the power. We just say the age thing because we're assuming high school seniors are a lot less likely than kindergarteners to turn on the waterworks when they don't get seated by their bestie.

So what if you're the free-love type and want to let them pick where to go? We're not going to judge. Do your thang. You just want to keep your eyes peeled for the whispering, the note-passing, and the check-out-this-hlarious-tweet-I-just-posted-when-Teach-wasn't-looking.

Your options: separate the culprits, revert to assigned seating, or be willing to keep your eyes open and your reprimands flying if necessary.

And if you're lucky, it won't be necessary. Giving students the chance, and the trust, to make that choice on their own can be the incentive they need to stay on-task.

We know you believe us. But here's a line from Fred Jones' Tools for Teaching and the matching website just to show that we've done the research to back it all up: "When students as a group are given the freedom to sit wherever they want in a classroom, they will always choose the location for themselves that is to the teacher's greatest possible disadvantage."

Uh oh. Is that really what we've been saying all along? But wait:

"What about the belief that those students are actually people and that none of us likes to be controlled? There is research and experience to show that students who have a voice in establishing the rules are much more likely to internalize and truly support/follow those rules" ( source ).

Whew. Thanks Fred.

So, maybe you let your students have free reign, or maybe you find a balance so that you still feel in control, but they don't feel too much like they're under your thumb. It's all about figuring out what works with your class dynamic so that your students sit still, and are happy to do it.

No lobotomies needed.

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Mr. Coller has assigned seating for both his chemistry and forensics classes.

Assigned seating versus free seating

Reese Buchanan , Staff Writer

February 13, 2023

When a student enters a classroom there are two options for seating: a seating chart, and sitting wherever you would like. Some teachers prefer assigned seats, but some prefer to let students choose. There are pros and cons to both situations– assigned seats allow for a more structured class, but most students would agree choosing where they sit is much more enjoyable.

Free seating

When it comes to where you sit in your classes, many students prefer to pick where they would like to sit. They believe that if they get to pick who they sit by, it can help them get their class work done better, 

Abbie Memott, a junior, has similar beliefs. Memott explains that “I like choosing my seating because sometimes I can choose who I work better with, versus who I don’t work very well with.” 

When working responsibly, letting students pick where they want to sit can actually help them in the long run. They know who they work well with and can feel more comfortable asking others around them for help. 

In order for free seating to work effectively, students have to be mature enough to realize what works well and what doesn’t. Ms Armstrong, the Spanish 4 and AP Spanish teacher, went more in depth on that idea. Armstrong said that at the stat of the semester she likes to “to give students the opportunity to sit where they choose and then they get the opportunity to show me they can handle sitting next to their friends.”

Armstrong also explains that “I teach the majority of junior and seniors and I would like them to be mature enough to handle choosing their seat but if they’re off task or too distracted I’ll move them.” 

Armstrong talked about how she doesn’t necessarily want to pick students’ seats for them, but if they can’t handle choosing their seats themselves, then she will have to pick their seats for them. 

Both students and teachers believe that, especially juniors and seniors, they should be able to have the maturity level to pick where they want to sit. They should know who they work well with and who they shouldn’t be sitting by. 

Assigned seating

Reese Buchanan , Staff writer

Assigned seating is a big debate across students and teachers at school. Should teachers make a seating chart where they assign seats to their students? Depending on the class, many students rather pick where they would like to sit, which is usually with their friends. 

Ms. Zolotoff, who teaches Spanish, explains how working with a lot of underclassmen affects her decision on whether to make a seating chart or not. She expresses that “I think its more necessary for students in bigger classes, also for underclassmen because they just have a different maturity and motivation level.” 

She also always lets students write down and give requests on who they would like to sit by “like I absolutely cannot sit by this person kind of situation,” Zolotoff adds. She doesn’t necessarily love assigning seats to her students, but most of the time a seating chart is needed. 

Aysha Marin, a sophmore, explains her experience with assigned seating. Marin announces that “I don’t like it because I sit next to my friends because I feel more comfortable talking to them and all my friends actually try, so it’s more beneficial when we’re not in assigned seats.” 

Marin also spoke more about how it can also depend on the class, teachers and students that are in the class. Marking goes more into details saying that “it’s like 50/50 because at times [she feels] like teachers need it because of certain groups of certain students in classrooms who are distracting and who do sit together but other times there are students who do sit by their friends and it is beneficial because they are more likely to ask questions.”

 She also mentioned how different classes and different students can make a huge effect on whether or not there should be assigned seats or not. 

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Should we Have Assigned Seats in Classrooms?

Emma Hacker , Staff Writer | December 8, 2022


Emma Hacker

Lexington, KY: A Lafayette science classroom full of juniors and seniors working together on an assignment.

When students walk into a teacher’s classroom, one of the first things they want to know is where they should sit. Many teachers choose to take away the mystery by creating classroom seating arrangements, which ends up sparking a heated debate.

First and foremost, classroom seating arrangements can be very beneficial at the beginning of a school year. With these seating arrangements, it is very easy for the teachers to quickly learn their students’ names. With a seating chart, you’ll know who is sitting where and be able to recognize faces in the classroom faster.

Also, If your seating chart is arranged alphabetically, turning in papers for grading is a cinch. When all papers are in alphabetical order already, teachers can easily enter them into their computer faster.

Also, when having a seating chart, it may be able to prevent classroom disturbances and issues between students, such as students who talk during instruction frequently and disturb the rest of the class. Or, for students who struggle to see or pay attention, you can move them up towards the front to keep more of an eye on them and help them when need be. And finally, by choosing where students sit, you can help them potentially meet new people and watch new friendships blossom.

There are a few cons to assigned seating, such as the risk of sitting people who dislike one another together heavily. This had happened to me earlier in the year when someone I was made to sit by was someone I had previously dated and left on bad terms with, but his name came right after mine alphabetically.

Another disadvantage with seating charts is that students with poor vision or hearing difficulties may only be able to participate in class if they can choose their seating; and this is not always an option. Also, an assigned seating may be disadvantageous to introverted students. When choosing their seats, they may sit by friends, encouraging them to participate more in class discussions.

The Lafayette Times interviewed Lafayette Sophomore Alyx Rose about which form of seating they preferred.

The Times: Do you prefer assigned seating or the ability to choose your seats, and why?

Alyx: I like assigned seating because no one can take my seat. I enjoy being in the same seats all year and feel as if changing seats tends to cause my work to falter.

The Times: Do you have any classes that let you choose your seats? And if so, would you say it’s led to you being more vocal in class discussions?

Alyx: In theatre, we are allowed to choose our seats, and we’re free to sit anywhere we’d like the entire year. I would say it has led to me being more vocal, though, and I enjoy participating in class discussions alongside my friends at the table. Despite this, I prefer assigned seating, especially for my work-heavy math and English classes. I don’t think I could focus if I could sit where I want to in every class.

Assigned seats should be present in classrooms, with a few minor tweaks. If students have issues with their sight or hearing, they should be allowed to choose their seats to participate to the best of their abilities. And if in a class you’re sitting beside someone you’re uncomfortable with, you should have the option to move somewhere else in the room, which, luckily, most teachers will let you do if you explain your situation.

While it can be hard for some people to sit away from their best friends or people they may know, ultimately, just as the student interviewed stated, it could be the best for your grades and work ethic. But, regardless of whether teachers decide to let students choose their seats or not, they should have rules in place ( and hold them to high expectations) that allow the students to be able to put their best foot forward in class.

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Emma Hacker is a junior at Lafayette High School; she loves to draw and write and has since she could hold a pencil. She has been taking drawing classes...

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Why I Embrace Seating Charts in High School

Utilizing seating charts for older students can help them avoid social minefields and focus on academics.

Photo of high school teacher and students in classroom

I have lived four decades on this earth, and still, there is nothing more intimidating than that moment of walking into a room and wondering… where am I gonna sit? Throw in the changing bodies and brains of adolescents, mixed with a social media landscape rife with tension, and it is nothing short of an emotional minefield.

This is why I’d like to promote the concept of the seating chart—and yes, I mean at the high school level! In my time as a teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal, I have witnessed the value of this strategy.

As author Brené Brown stresses, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

Seating Charts Create Clarity for Students 

What we need to realize is that there is an implicit seating chart every day when teenagers walk into a room. A student will want to sit by their friends on the day when they’re getting along, but not when they had a fight last night. One student is wondering where their bully is going to sit and how they can avoid that without making a scene. Another student is wondering where the cool kids sit. Nobody wants to sit by that student. Another student wants to focus and sit away from their distracting peers but doesn’t want their peers to know that. 

Once students get over the initial—and natural—response to an assigned seating chart, they can settle into the routine of learning with a lot less drama. They appreciate the clarity, and predictability , that allow them to focus on academics rather than on the social scene for that class period.

Designing seating charts for clarity:

  • At the beginning of the year in your introduction survey, ask students about conflicts in the room that might impede their learning.
  • Collaborate with other key stakeholders who might better know the social dynamics, such as prior teachers, counselors, and administration.
  • When analyzing the behavioral communication of students, observe the impact of the seating arrangements. 

Seating Charts Create and Communicate an Intentional Space and Place

Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering addresses how important this is for whatever event we are hosting. And our class period is an event we host every day for a specific purpose. Walking into a room that has a seating chart, especially after a free passing period, reminds students that they have entered—what I call in my class—a sacred space for community and learning. This acts as an invitation for students to recalibrate and arrive fully.

Designing seating charts that communicate intentionality: 

  • Use seating charts as an intentional social and emotional learning activity. Starting with an inclusion activity and ending with an optimistic closure are great ways to build strong peer-to-peer relationships in the designated seating groups and communicate that this is a place where we know one another and are known.
  • Your seating chart should serve the intention of your lesson(s). When the goal is solid relationships and safer collaborative experiences for students, create a “home group” seating chart for a full quarter or trimester. When the goal is student-led discussion, rearrange the room in a circle with assigned seats. When the goal is an independent assessment, assign students in rows. When the goal is to ensure that students are owning their thinking every day, regularly use randomized seating . When the goal is differentiation, use homogeneous assigned groups.

Seating Charts Make Academic Learning More Accessible for All Students

Many students who receive additional support for language, learning difficulties, or physical differences often have listed on their accommodation plans “preferred seating.” Assigned seating ensures that a student with vision struggles sits where the best sight line is, a student who needs someone to translate directions sits next to a reliable peer, a student who is easily distracted sits away from the door, a student in a wheelchair has an appropriate area set up, etc.

  • Be aware of and honor all support documentation for a student.
  • Collaborate with other key stakeholders such as assistants, nurses, and support teachers.
  • Ask students what they need.

Seating charts foster optimal behavior choices from all students. Students more often than not want to do well; they really do . But unfortunately, their frontal lobe development doesn’t always allow for this.

Assigned seating charts allow for the teachers to ease the burden for students to behave appropriately. If a student struggles with paying attention, sit them near the front. If they struggle with side conversations, give them two assigned seats: one for independent work that’s isolated and one for collaborative work with a group. If they are negatively influenced by a peer, sit them on opposite sides out of each other’s sight line. If they are having a rough day, sit them in a quiet corner for their own little space. 

Leveraging Seating Charts for Optimal Behavior

  • Avoid using seating charts as a reaction to frustration or as punishment. When they are a regular part of your instructional strategy, students see them as a beneficial tool rather than a weapon.
  • Accept that it is better for you to be unpopular because of where a student has to sit, or not sit, than it is for them to be unpopular by visibly making that choice for themselves.
  • Just as with academic learning, monitor the efficacy of your seating charts through data and feedback, and then adjust accordingly.

Seating charts offer opportunities for the teacher to communicate “the why” to students. High school students need to know the why, and they love when they are invited behind the curtain of our actions. Be visibly and consistently metacognitive about all of your seating strategies. When I am new to a group of students, there is always the eye roll and grunt from students when I tell them that I will use seating charts. But then I tell them why I do it and how I do it at various points of the process, and slowly but surely they buy in. 

Seating charts may seem old-fashioned, but they can revolutionize the high school classroom experience! 

Roxanna Elden

Two Ways to Assign Seats on the First Day of Class

by roxannaelden

It can be hard to label permanent seats before the first day of school, because your class roster will change throughout the first week. The first week may also provide some clues about which students should sit together, and—more important—which students should definitely not sit together. If you’re not ready to assign long-term seats, here are two methods for seating students in a quick and orderly way while still leaving some wiggle room.

Option 1: Label desks with something other than student names.

Especially in higher grade levels, you often have several groups of students throughout the day; chances are, you’re not taping student names to the desks anyway. You may, however, want to label the desks with numbers. Or, you can get creative and label them with symbols that match your subject matter.

My favorite system involves two decks of playing cards. (In my experience, it’s better to use only the numbered cards, not the king, queen, or jack. You can tape the king or queen of hearts to your own desk as a clever touch if that matches your style.)

Here’s how the system works:

assigned seating at school

  • Remove cards as needed from the second deck so it matches the cards taped to the desks. When you’re done, shuffle this matching deck; you’ll use it to randomly assign seats as students enter the room on the first day.
  • When the kids come in the first day, have them pick a card as you greet them. “Good morning. Your seat is the one that matches this card. The rest of the directions are on the board.” (Here’s where you can find more detailed tips on the first five minutes of the first day of class .)
  • Once everyone is seated and working on their first assignment, collect the cards. Put them back into the deck and shuffle them; you can then use the deck again to randomly call on students for the rest of the class period. This will also help you set the expectation that any student may be called on at any time to answer a question.
  • As your students are working on their first-day assignments, label one copy of your blank seating chart with their names. This is one way to help you memorize students’ names as quickly as possible . It will also give a sense of order to the class as you’re getting to know the chemistry among students. Tell students that these will be their assigned seats until you’ve had a chance to make a more permanent seating chart.

Note: This system is not perfect. (No system is perfect.) Among other things, the cards get grungy after a while. You’ll probably have to replace them a few times a year. What I like about this system, however, is that it keeps kids from sitting with the friends they walked in with, and it also keeps them from heading straight for the seats in the back of the room on the first day.

Option 2: Strategically Place Empty Seats. And Don’t Bother With Alphabetical Order.

This is often a good option for the lower grades, where you have one group of students and also often have a classroom theme, so the kids’ names can be written on paper caterpillars (or whatever) taped to each desk. For this system, just assume that you’ll need five extra desks for students who join the class at the last minute, and you’ll also need some extra, blank paper caterpillars, and some extra tape. (Chances are, you’ll have some no-show students as well.) You can decide in advance where to locate these extra desks based on how you’ve organized your classroom. What you’ll want to avoid, however, is labeling the desks alphabetically, only to let out a long, exasperated sigh when a student whose last name starts with M walks in and messes up the whole thing .

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assigned seating at school

"If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn." ~ Ignacio Estrada

A fun way to assign seating to your students on the first day of school.

Randomized “Assigned” Seating on the first day of school? Yes!

In the past, I’ve assigned seats AND I’ve allowed my new students to choose where they’d like to sit on Day 1, with mixed results.

I want to give my students some control over their environment whenever I can so in my flexible seating classroom I would tell them to sit wherever they feel most comfortable. It gave me a chance to see them interact.

Recently I’ve been thinking about those students who might not know any of their new classmates or who feel vulnerable. Having students choose their partners can be very socially intimidating, and choosing where you sit means as much about friends as it does about the actual seat.

assigned seating at school

“Randomized Assignments” just means that students are assigned seats based on the random selection of their “partner” cards. Since I don’t know my students well enough to know who would do well sitting together (and which students to avoid having as neighbors), this strategy allows for the flexibility of moving students without ostracizing anyone.

assigned seating at school

As I greet them walking in, I hand them a card. Students look for the matching pair card on a desk and settle there for the day (or morning, or week, whatever you prefer).

assigned seating at school

This version adds a little fun to the first day of school without the pressure! Plus, I provided pair hints so no one is left wondering what goes with Avocado (toast of course!).

Make sure you don’t get distracted multi-tasking like I did and be careful when printing double-sided pages so this doesn’t happen!

assigned seating at school

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Opinion | Teaching and Learning

Create a culture, not a classroom: why seating charts matter for student success, by kevin behan     aug 17, 2019.

Create a Culture, Not a Classroom: Why Seating Charts Matter for Student Success

Marko Poplasen / Shutterstock

The start of a school year means a new seating chart for each classroom—full of students that the teacher likely hasn’t met. Without knowing the students, how does a teacher know where to assign their seats?

This question comes up each summer as teachers strive to create the best learning environment possible. From my experience in the classroom, I’ve found that seating chart choices can be critical to how students engage with one another and the teacher.

Today, the influx of digital tools and new instructional models means that the traditional classroom settings of “quiet students, talking teacher” may no longer apply. Already, some teachers are letting go of tradition and allowing flexible seating in classrooms to give students freedom to choose where they want to sit. For others, placing students into assigned groups for cooperative learning can produce the optimal learning environment.

As each teacher develops their own style of seating students, their process involves weighing several factors to create their ideal classroom arrangement. But how does a teacher know what’s best for their classroom and which student dependencies should factor into these decisions?

Prep and Plan

The lead times for seating chart planning range from the moment the teacher receives the class roll to the first day of class. Some teachers wait until getting to know the students before assigning seats, with open seating in earlier weeks and a solid chart after seeing how students interact, focus, and learn. This reactive approach can work better for teachers who enjoy flexibility and adaptability.

Others take a proactive approach, often by asking previous teachers of those students for their feedback. While this warrants extra legwork at the beginning, polling fellow teachers about their previous students can sometimes help identify when seat placements are beneficial to how an individual student engages in class.

Consider Preferences

Options for seating arrangement type vary, from row-and-column grids to two-person tables to stadium seating. Some draw inspiration from their favorite popular hangout spots, like Starbucks . (But others warn against turning flexible furniture design into a fad.)

For more traditional layouts—whether in rows or in the form of a semi-circle arrangement—past research suggests that students who sit toward the center tend to participate more in classroom discussions.

Although a fixed seating chart does make it easier to remember students’ names, a teacher might decide to change up the layout regularly for a variable learning experience, some as often as every day and others about once a month. That’s not to say that change is necessary for everyone. As long as a classroom is functioning harmoniously, a fixed seating chart can remain unchanged throughout the year. If something doesn’t work, then the teacher can adjust until an arrangement sticks.

Other Factors and Dependencies

There’s more to a seating chart than telling a student where to sit, as many other considerations must be taken into account. Learning disabilities, academic performance, and vision problems could necessitate students being placed in the front of the classroom to ensure better learning and higher engagement.

Social considerations and partner compatibility are important to consider because some students work well with others, even if their socialization can be distracting. It’s common for friends to ask to sit together and not unusual for a teacher to separate them to avoid over-socialization. What they might later learn is that the friends complement and challenge each other in a positive way. Being open and malleable as a teacher creates opportunities for students to learn from each other collaboratively.

Clustering students into groups can also lead to learning environments that foster student collaboration. Previous studies conducted by psychologist and John Hopkins research director, Robert Slavin, points to positive outcomes from cooperative learning, in the form of students learning more, enjoying school and the subject, and feeling more successful.

Create a Culture, not a Classroom

It is integral for teachers to find a layout that suits their preference and instructional style, in ways that make them most engaging and effective. But it is also important to create an environment where students can support each other.

Grouping high level and low level learners together is useful in facilitating peer coaching, and heterogeneous groups can help each other in the learning process. In my experience, this method has been the most effective way to encourage a positive exchange for collective learning in a classroom community.

The seating chart is an underrated tool that can help turn a good learning environment into a great one. While there is no clear model for where to place students, if done correctly, a well-thought-out seating chart fosters an effective classroom environment that allows students to maximize their learning potential.

Kevin Behan is a product manager at GoGuardian.

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August 11, 2021

Assigned classroom seats can promote friendships between dissimilar students

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Assigned seating is a necessary evil in cohesive class settings

All students would prefer to be seated next to a friend, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. many berkeley high school  teachers use assigned seating..

assigned seating at school

Eden Middleswart

All students would prefer to be seated next to a friend, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Many Berkeley High School  teachers use assigned seating. While assigned seating can be frustrating to students, especially those who already have friends in the class, when done well it does more good than harm.

It’s fun to learn with friends. However, it can be hard for someone to walk into a classroom where they don’t know anyone. Often they’ll end up sitting in the corner of the room while other people talk around them during breaks or after work is done. Assigned seating helps to prevent this situation. With assigned seating, most people at a table group won’t know each other. Students are pushed to make new friends, and people without pre-existing friendships feel less isolated. 

In addition, assigned seating challenges students to reach outside of their comfort zone when making friendships. People often become friends with people similar to themselves. In a classroom, this might result in a table with only extroverted people or a table of very academically motivated students. Assigned seating helps students form friendships with people who are different from them. When students have diverse friendships, they gain the opportunity to practice empathy and open themselves up to new perspectives. 

On top of this, when teachers use seating charts they are better able to manage the classroom. Teachers can choose to not seat students who distract each other together. They can place students with trouble focusing closer to them or at the front of the room. They can group confident students with students who are struggling, so they can help provide more support. In general, teachers are able to pay more attention to the special needs of each student. 

One of the drawbacks of assigned seating is that teachers may make mistakes. At the beginning of the year, teachers have no way of knowing which students have issues with each other or the way each student learns best. But luckily, some teachers have found a way to negate the downsides of assigned seating. The most common way is to ask for student input. When providing input, students give teachers information they don’t already have. Students can let teachers know if there’s someone they do or don’t work well with. They can also provide thoughts on where they learn best, such as the front or back of the classroom, and why.

People argue against assigned seating because they believe it prevents students from practicing self-control. However, certain students simply aren’t at the place where they can make those responsible choices yet. Assigning seats gives students input, allows them to practice self-restraint and independence, while still ensuring everyone ends up where they can learn.

Teachers should assign seating thoughtfully with student input. School is for learning, and assigned seating assists students in that. Assigned seating not only helps students focus on classwork, but also teaches them how to create new and different friendships.


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