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Sit! Strategies for Creating Student Seating Charts

written by: erichammer • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 2/8/2012

One of the most vexing problems that some secondary teachers have is trying to remember who their students are and what they did during class while still teaching a full lesson. Fortunately, that's easily solved with student seating charts.

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    One of the Best Strategies for Effective Classroom Management

    Unless you are lucky enough to teach in special education, or in a very exclusive private school, virtually every teacher in the world must contend with at least 25 children, and sometimes as many as 45 or 50 children in a single classroom. Because of the huge number of students a teacher has to deal with, many only write down cursory notes about what their students did, both good and bad, and that after the class is over when they have some time for prep. This leads to poor classroom management simply because these teachers don't have good classroom management skills.

    Some teachers have tried using Delaney cards for their student seating charts. However, these also have limited value as seating charts for the classroom since you have one card per student for the entire school year. They are mostly useful for keeping track of attendance and where students are sitting (itself a big issue). This concept is similar to that of Delaney cards, but is more flexible and allows you to keep daily track of the goings on in class every day.

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    A Great System

    All you have to do is to create a seating chart of your students using simple boxes for each student. You can do this with the drawing tools in Microsoft Word. In Word 2003, it is on the draw toolbar, and in Word 2007/2010, it is on the Insert, Shapes part of the ribbon.

    Group the boxes close together to represent the desks in your classroom and type your student’s names inside each one. At the top of your seating chart, leave a blank space for the date and, if you have more than one class, add the class number at the top of the page. Now print out enough copies to use for the next week or two (don’t print more than that as seating arrangements may change and you’ll need to adjust your seating chart accordingly). This will already help you with classroom management because it shows you visually where everyone is.

    This is a great start, but here’s the really powerful part. As things happen in the classroom, you simply make shorthand notes about the events. For example, you can write a T for “talking out of turn" or an O for “out of their seat without permission." In addition, you can write other letters, such as an A for “answered a question" or an H for “Homework completed." Just keep a new sheet for each day and customize this system as you wish for your own classroom management needs.

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    The Bottom Line

    The bottom line is, this system is one of the many strategies for effective classroom management and instruction that a teacher should have in his or her arsenal. It offers you the ability to see, at a glance, and over time who has been participating in class and who has done their homework (Not to mention providing an easy way of creating seating charts for the classroom). When meeting parents, you can refer to these student seating charts and see specific dates and point to the fact that homework wasn’t done that day or a student disrupted class on this day. And, of course, you can reward students who participate regularly.

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    Sample Seating Chart

    Looking for a sample student seating chart for your classroom? Just click here to see a sample in pdf format, (you'll need to download the free Adobe Reader application to see it). While this version is not editable, you can easily create something similar using Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer.