Seating Charts Again

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



9 thoughts on “Seating Charts Again”

  1. Amen on the seating! Last year I did the half-circle, but this year went for good ol’ rows. They are all facing me and the board which are the two things they need to be paying attention to, and they are less likely to reach over onto a neighbor’s desk when they are more separated. I also did assigned seats for the first time this year to avoid those little cliques. I didn’t alphabetize, and I have a bunch of special needs kids (i.e. ADHD) who have to be seated up front. Especially in my class from last year that didn’t have assigned seats for most of the year, the difference has been stark. Much better behavior.

  2. Okay. A little push back here. This year, for the first time in about 20 years, I seated kids alphabetically. It was purely because I had too many names to learn. I have 195 kids this year, and I HAD to learn their names. Circling with balls has been a huge help in that regard.

    But, the rows? Here’s why I cannot do the straight traditional rows, even though I am the only one in the room who knows the language and even though their grade depends on interacting with me. I have to feel comfortable in the room. Of all people, I, who am in the room all day long, need to feel comfortable in the space, and the straight rows make me feel trapped. It’s that simple. I have to give that to myself. My DEA rules are working, and giving a DEA assessment every three weeks (similar to Jen’s rubric, but I had started this a few weeks before Jen’s was published) helps that, too. So, I have 17-18 desks on each side of the room, 5 rows each, facing the middle of the room. I have white board at one end, word wall at the other, posters on all four walls, and I am in constant motion.

  3. I’m with Bob on this one. I have to have my classes in a horseshoe shape two rows deep, because I always pace and move around and don’t want any kid to be to far away from me. I also like to dramatize things and need that central open space in the middle as a stage to work from.

    The first two weeks of class with a new group I always alphabetize–by first name. I don’t really care what their last name is, and grouping everybody this way gives me more of a chance to guess correctly while I’m still guessing. It also throws the kids off because they never see the pattern unless I tell them. I personally swap kids around every two weeks in order to both comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Even my seventh graders admit that they can put up with anybody for two weeks.

  4. I’m glad this came up again.

    I vowed to try traditional rows again this year after having an arrangement like Bob’s for the past 5 years or so. Bob, I agree that the teacher has to be comfortable and I’m glad the forward facing rows are working well for you, Nathan and others. I personally love that open space and feeling when we are looking at each other, but I had to try something different this year because I feel my kids have been heavily distracted by one another in this arrangement and it has been a challenge for me to maintain class order with it.

    So this year I have seven forward facing rows of six seats deep with two large aisles so I can still “work the room.” So far, I’m happy with the arrangement. I have much more eye contact with students, there are less side English conversations (especially in Latin 1 compared with last year) and hiding phones is more difficult. Overall, it is much easier for my kids, to stay in L2 with this arrangement, although the upper level kids who know each other better and are used to getting away with more English conversation still struggle with either arrangement.

    I did expect some resistance to the change from my upper level kids who are used to the old arrangement, but haven’t had much. I explained that the forward facing rows were mainly so I could get more eye contact and a number of them agreed that it is easier to focus with them. Some told me that they had a hard time always turning toward the front to see the board and make eye contact with me with the old arrangement. They also said it had been easier to be distracted by their friends across the room. I only had one student who said she didn’t like the new rows, and we agreed to move her up front more; she said she thought she would like that better and would be more engaged.

    Right now I’m just of the mind that asking my students to make eye contact with me while they are sitting there facing their peers is a mixed message. Most of my kids last year struggled all year to make eye contact with me over their friends. Maybe the rows help with big classes too, because when I started getting classes of 40 plus kids I noticed a breakdown in attention too and my ability to police it in the old arrangement.

    As much as I loved feeling comfortable with the old arrangement, much like Bob talked about, I feel more now comfortable getting the eye contact and improved L2 time that I didn’t get last year. And like I said above, this difference with Latin 1 from this year and last, is VERY noticeable. Maybe I just have more focused kids this year? Or maybe I’m just doing a better job of enforcing the rules? I don’t know, but I can tell there is a big change in the level of eye contact and L2 time with much less English side conversations and blurting.

    P.S. Three days down and my cell phone tally is 2 so far. I told the kids I swore an oath in blood to Ben Slavic this summer to send to Guidance any phone, electronic device or headphones that I saw. And now that I’ve followed through on the phones of two of my sharpest students who challenged the rule and had their phones under their desks, the kids know that my words will be matched with action.

  5. Never apologize for ranting or writing too much. Look at me.

    On the cell phones, yes, and we made that oath with the same kind of intensity that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn signed their own oaths.

    I am going with the Three and Done deal where they get a note in the conference atom in Infinite Campus and then after three they get a referral. In that way I don’t have to collect the phone. Four days of class so far and not a single phone but the challenges will come next week. I tell them that if I see a phone or buds three things can happen:

    1. nothing, if the phone is not being used.
    2. if they are using it and I tell them to not use it, and they acquiesce, then only the conference atom gets done right after class or during class in that moment.
    3. if they refuse to put it away, I call security for defiance and they have a problem.

    So with cell phones they have a choice – put it away and only get one strike before the three strikes allowed before the referral, or get the instant referral.

    I’ll try to find the Three and Done policy that I explain to them in the first days of school along with the Classroom Rules and the jGR.

    Another point here is I remind them all the time of “Finger Rule #1”. That is the one where nothing is allowed on the desks, no book bags, just water bottles. That is bc book bags are very closely used with cell phones. Not allowing the book bags goes a long way to preventing cell phone use, bc then they have to get better with their slouching, and that doesn’t work bc of Classroom Rule #4. When I see the “cell phone slouch” I walk right over. I have even learned how to keep my sentence going while doing that. And you have too.

  6. Here it is:

    Three and Done

    The following things interfere with learning in our classroom:

    1. Excessive bathroom trips
    2. Use of English
    3. Unexcused tardies
    4. Unexcused absences
    5. Visiting with a neighbor during class
    6. Cell phones
    7. Buds/earphones in ears

    Therefore, when a student has three (2,3,4,6,7) or more (1,5) of any of the above things documented by the teacher in the ALHS grade book, a referral will be written.

  7. Thanks for the great discussion here! I really appreciate everyone’s experience and willingness to share. Okay, this has been said a couple of times, “…interaction with me determines half their grade,” but I don’t know what it means.
    Does it mean that they can’t learn effectively without giving you their attention (yes, of course this is true but is it what is meant), or does it mean that their participation grade is 50% of their grade?

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben