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Day One Seating Charts

This mistake usually occurs on the very first day; sometimes a vetran may make it later in the week. Seating Charts. Few educators I've known learn the names of students the first time they hear them. I've actually known some excellent teachers that have never learned their name because they had so many in their classes that they only went by the seat number.

It is universally understood that the prime seats for learning are those closest to the front. Yet no class has the luxury of few enough students that they can all have front row seating. The end result is that seats must be assigned.

Experienced teachers often wait a few days to see who the friends and potential danger spots are to break them up with the idea that then they will have their full attention. For the most part this strategy works; however, what is does to the relationship between the teacher and the student can often be destructive.

The only way to avoid this destructive begining is to let the students choose their own seats secretly. This way they can not blame you for putting them next to Sally or Tommy, they can only blame themselves. They can not blame you for putting them at the back of the room or the front. This is how it works:

On a separate sheet of paper have all your seats displayed. Take a deck of cards and shuffle them. Turn them over 1 by 1 and write them on top of a seat. Go in order; they are already random. This is the foundation of the system.

When the students arrive the first day have them choose a card. Once in the room it will be like a game to them. They can look at the cards and change with each other. Some will try to figure out a way to sit by their friends by having two Kings or cards numerically next to each other. It doesn't matter. Let them switch, this is where you are giving them a feeling of control.

Here I tell them this is their first "Test". Oh it's ungraded but to fail it all their friends will know. The all gather in some open area of the room and I offer them one last chance to switch cards. Done! I let them know I'm only reading out the card twice and they are expected to listen and move towards their new seat when I say it. Once there I hand them the traditional first day paper to lean something abaout them. Thus they immediately have something to do once seated. I run through the entire card seating chart and then while they are completing their assignment I go around with the new one and fill in their names.

I remember one year a young girl asked when she received her seat "Why I didn't like her and put her here"? I explained that she choose the card, she traded the card and it had nothing to do with my feelings. That insight demonstrated how sensitive students are to subtle things we as teachers do that we never would have suspected could eventually cause an issue.

The only addition to this seating chart is my playing Asteroids with them at various intervals during they year.