There has been a bit of talk on Twitter about seating plans- are they useful or actually a hindrance? Even, are they a sign of a teacher who is actually unable to control a class? I don’t think so. I, am not ashamed to admit; love them. I have always used them. Even my form class have a seating plan. They just work (for me). I find they help keep order in the classroom. If the students see that they need to sit where you decide, well isn’t that just the first step towards demonstrating to them who is in charge? Yes, I’m not afraid to say, as the teacher, I AM in charge of the classroom (darn straight). My students WILL learn and make progress, but when it comes to deciding things, sorry, but I’m the one in charge and that’s just the end of it. Yes I do, as a “reward” allow them to choose where to sit on some days, but that is an earned reward and the students respond well to it. I have also, as a bright-eyed NQT, allowed the students to try the whole “Ok, so, I don’t know you yet, so please choose who to sit with and make sure to choose wisely, otherwise I will know you’ve made the wrong choice and will be forced to choose for you”. All the while, the students fight every natural urge not to offend their friends and not sit with them (the end result is that they can’t help themselves and invariably always choose to sit with or near their closet friends). You can’t blame them! They’re kids! Of course they want to sit with their friends, I did when I was at school!
On INSET Days, sometimes whoever is running the session decides the seating arrangements. Now, this *does* annoy us, because, as a staff, sometimes we are happiest being insular and sitting in our faculties/with the colleagues who we get on best with. However, what happens when we do that? We chat. And we don’t listen (sometimes!). But when we have to sit where we’re told? We’re out of our comfort zone. We’re forced to speak to and work with people we might not ordinarily do so with. We (probably) work better and more effectively.
So there, I will always be for the seating plan. It’s the easiest and first piece of advice I give to all my new NQTs and trainees. I am sure they shall continue to create debate. I do think, though, that teachers should be allowed to use what works for them and their students. You know them. And if you don’t know them yet, do a seating plan!!!