I can already hear groans coming from many educators, especially those, like me, who believe we need to move away from the factory model.
But, here it is….we should assign seats.
Before I go any further, I am not advocating rows upon rows of seats. Instead, I prefer learning groups that enable flexibility.
- Often 504s and IEPs include, “preferential seating away from distractions/near front of the classroom.” Such language requires these students be assigned seats, so it’s less discriminatory to assign all students seats.
- When the new school year begins, most classes have at least a few students who are new to the school. Without assigning seats these students, not knowing any of their classmates, nervously amble into class, sit in a seat on the fringes of the class, and hope someone sits next to them and initiates a conversation. Akin in many ways to student-selected PE teams for the non-athletes who are picked last, teacher-selected teams/seats, remove social anxiety.
- Building upon this, when teachers don’t assign seats classrooms are often segregated by race, ethnicity, academic readiness, and gender. Learning should be a social endeavor and and by assigning seats and groups we help break down these walls.
- Assigned seats also enable teachers to more easily differentiate instruction. In my class students were placed in groups of four with each group consisting of a high-readiness student, a low-readiness student and two middle-of-the-road students. This arrangement made it easy for me to group students in a variety of ways, including times when students were able to select their own partners/groups.
Assigned seats communicate to students that they are supposed to be there and they have a place that they belong.
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Reed is a longtime educator and coach, who is passionate about progressive learning and 21st-century assessment practices. Read more of his work here. "I'm a co-moderator of #VAchat, a Twitter conversation for Virginia (and non-Virginian) educators that meets Monday's at 8 ET. Most importantly, I'm a father of four wonderful children and a couple grandchildren. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, sports and, of course, spending time with family."