Throw Out Your Seating Chart and Try One of These 7 Ideas Instead

Innovative ways to redesign your classroom.

OK, spill: Have you started thinking about how you want to set up your classroom next year? It’s totally OK if you’re still in “summer” mode, however, around this time we always get excited about determining where and how students will sit. Do you want groups of four or five? Should the talkers be separated from the quieter ones? Here are seven ideas to keep in mind as you begin to sketch out your seating plan.

1. Consider “active” seating. Inflated gym balls and discs can be a great alternative to traditional seating, especially for students with excess energy to burn. You don’t have to swap out 25 chairs for yoga balls, either—purchase one or two and see how your students do with them.

2. Make your seating plan a learning game. We love this idea from math teacher Sandra Richards: For a certain period during the year she turns the floor of her classroom into a coordinate plane, and challenges students to find their desks by giving them an equation or a point in the graph. You could also adapt this idea for geography or social studies!

3. Embed peer tutoring into your seating plan. If you want to focus on a particular skill in the first months of school, consider doing some initial assessment and placing higher-level students next to lower-level ones. Just remember that your top students in one area won’t necessarily be the highest level for another topic, and that all of your students have skills they can share with others.

4. Incorporate private space into your classroom. The noise, lights and commotion of the classroom can be overwhelming for some students. Make sure that you have a quieter space, such as a reading nook, for students to “check out” when they need it.

5. Provide equal access to technology. If you have an interactive whiteboard or digital projector, for example, you want to make sure that all students can see it without too much twisting or turning. This blog entry shows how one teacher’s seating plan evolved with the inclusion of a whiteboard.

6. Consider ergonomics. The truth is, human beings weren’t meant to sit around all day—especially kids and young adults. Check out these tips for finding ergonomic furniture for the classroom.

7. Don’t get stuck in a rut. The key to an effective seating plan is flexibility. We love these creative ways to group 20, 24, even 30 students. You may be surprised by all the possibilities!

Question for you: What are your secrets to designing a seating plan? Any great tips to share?

Erin Macpherson

Posted by Erin Macpherson

One Comment

  1. […] in small groups, or with you. Set up your room to facilitate small group work or with a seating arrangement, such as a U-shape, which will allow you to monitor as many screens as […]

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