One of the first things that many teachers do when they receive a new group of students is create a seating chart. In the beginning, teachers usually are not aware of problems that will exist when certain students are placed together. Therefore, the seating arrangement may change several times during the first semester.
Primary grade teachers often create nametags and seating charts for their students before school even begins. Students feel more at ease when they come into the room and have a place that belongs to them. Middle and secondary teachers sometimes go without a specified seating chart until a problem or need exist.
However, I feel that older students also look for a place to belong. I can remember many college courses in which my class was not assigned a seat. Although a formal seating arrangement was not assigned, the students typically sat in the same seat each day (in which an informal seating chart was then created).
Teachers use various criteria to create seating charts. Some teachers prefer to seat students by gender, placing a boy then a girl. Other teachers use height or alphabetical order of the students’ last names. Sometimes students are grouped to elevated behavior problems. Students that misbehave are usually separated from one another and placed close to the teacher or front of the room.
Teachers who use cooperative groups or learning centers often seat students in clusters. Some teachers prefer that students be group by academic ability. They place students according to high, medium, or low abilities. Another option considers academic ability but mixes students so that each group has a variety of levels.
Regardless of how a teacher decides to arrange the students in the classroom, I feel that it is important for a plan to exist. Students need to feel that they belong in the class by having an area of their very own. Having a place where a child belongs gives the student a sense of security.