Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quick and Easy Seating Charts

     Well, I've made it through the first "week" of school.  And even though that week was actually only three days with students, I am exhausted.  
     One thing that makes my first few weeks manageable is a seating chart.  For the freshmen, few of whom I already know, I seat my students in alphabetical order by first name.  This helps me learn names more quickly-- I know if a student is on the right side of the room, his/her name must start with a letter early in the alphabet.  That helps trigger my memory and I learn more quickly.  Unfortunately, those alphabetical seating charts don't always put kids in the seats that actually work best for them.
     After I've had time to learn names, I am ready to re-do seating charts.  If you can manage a room full of hormonal half-adults without assigned seats, more power to you!  But I have got to assign seats.  It makes all our lives a bit easier.  

5 Steps to a Seating Chart that Suits Everyone

1. Make notes as to where you'd like certain students to be.  Note behavior issues, students who work well (or don't) together, and IEPs that require preferential seating.

2. Ask the kids.  I know this goes against everything an old-school teacher might suggest, but really- I have each student answer three questions:
      - Where would you prefer to sit and why?
      - With whom do you work well?
      - With whom do you not work well?
Honestly, this requires a good rapport with students.  I wait until I know them well enough to either trust them or not.  If you give kids a little freedom to make these choices, they appreciate it and most times will not abuse the privilege.  Important: I make it clear to kids that I will not necessarily put them where they request, but that I will try.

3. Go to HappyClassApp.  This site allows you to set up a classroom and arrange your seats as they are in your room.  Then, the fun part.  HappyClassApp allows you to set rules for each student- Alison prefers to sit up front, Will prefers the back, Brandi and Trent work well together, but Evan and Morgan do not, etc. 

You can even "pin" students to specific seats if you need them in a certain spot.  Once you've set rules (based on your preferences combined with the kids' preferences), you click the "Optimize" button.  The app automatically rearranges students to make the best fit for everyone.  If a student is unhappy, their name will display a frowning face.  Click the "optimize" button again, and the app will try again until everyone is happy (including you!).

Because of those "so-so" happy kids,
I'd probably optimize this one again
until I got a better result.

4. Number your classroom seats.  I use colorful masking tape, and starting on one side, assign each seat a number.  (Tip: It's also helpful to put a strip of tape along the wall to remind kids where their rows should be and which seats belong in each row.  It makes straightening the room a snap.)

5. Print out the HappyClassApp seating chart, and number each seat on the chart.  Post it in your classroom, and tell students to find their spot.  No one wanders around trying to figure out which seat is theirs on the diagram, because they just go to their number.  Easy peasy!
 photo signature_zpsbe0f1799.png
Post a Comment