Seating Students

Ask any teacher you know and they’ll most likely agree that one of their least favorite tasks at the beginning of the school year is the seating plan. With older students, most teachers find the most effective way is to allow the students to choose their own seats in the beginning on condition that they’ll behave and not be disruptive. If they don’t follow the teacher’s conditions, the teacher can move them.

It is a good idea to switch the students’ seating throughout the year so they get to know other students in the class and learn to work with others. It will also avoid too much chatter as students won’t be able to communicate directly with the same students and become too complacent. Most teachers recommend switching student seating every 6 weeks with the rule that they must sit by different students than before.

There are a number of seating arrangements that you can try depending on the floor space of your classroom.

  • Traditional seating plan: The teacher sits at the front of the room facing 5-6 rows of student desks. This is the most common kind of seating plan due to classroom space; however, teachers often complain that students sitting at the back are more prone to talking.
  • Horseshoe (semi-circle) seating plan: This is often used in smaller classes and is a good way to fill empty space. Alternatively, you can place students in two horseshoe patterns one inside the other. This is a particularly good arrangement for classes that involve many demonstrations.
  • Modular seating plan: This plan requires a number of large tables with 4 students sitting around each one. This is a great plan for younger grades or any class that requires a lot of interaction such as ESL classes. This plan allows the teacher to provide one-on-one instruction and to work closely with one group and not interrupt the other groups.

You should also take into consideration:

  • Students’ ability to see the chalkboard.
  • Students’ ability to see you.
  • Space for you to move about.
  • Health and safety hazards (i.e. can everyone leave the class easily in case of emergency?).