Seating Plans

Every teacher should have a seating plan: it serves two very useful purposes:

  1. It enables you to learn their names quickly and efficiently. If they sit where they want, you’ll have no reference point other than your memory with which to connect names to faces.

  2. It breaks up friendship groups and focuses the pupils on the idea that the point of the lesson is to learn, not to socialise with their mates and catch up on the latest gossip.

So these two purposes (name learning and behaviour management) are best served by having a seating plan.

What happens if you DON’T have a seating plan?

Naturally, most children will sit with people they want to talk to; the ones they get along best with. While that’s lovely for them, it’s dynamite to your lesson, because the temptation to chat when you want them to listen will be great…too great to resist for most. Also, it allows them to bunch up into groups that can conspire against other groups. In other words, it emphasises the social aspect of the lesson at the expense of the learning aspect.

Another danger is that the keen, hard working kids will drift to the front, and the…let’s call them the less keen will be drawn to the back as if by an enormous magnet.

Making a plan. Before you teach a class for the first time, design your seating plan. Even if you don’t know them at all, you can randomise the arrangement by choosing an alphabetical order; or by arranging in alternate gender; or by any other sequence that introduces an element of chance, like the world’s most boring casino. Don’t put all the boys on one side and all the girls on the other, unless you’re trying to engineer a brave new world.

Top Tips

  • Separate trouble makers by row AND column

  • Mix up gender

  • Group by ability

  • Keep the hard nuts near to you

  • Insist on the seating plan- don’t give in to ‘Please!’

  • Add data onto your seating plan for example targets, pupil premium etc.