Classroom Map 1: Exert Maximal Control
New teachers: start with this setup. New teachers: start with this setup. New teachers: start with this setup. Don’t move students into any fancy arrangement after they’re “so good” for you during the first Tuesday through Friday week of the entire school year in September. It’s a honeymoon. It will end, and you want to have control when it does.
This setup maximizes control and minimizes the possibility of distraction and interaction between students, and as such, it is the easiest to control. All eyes should be on you and for young teachers whose classrooms are still spinning in limbo in the craziness of learning this difficult job, it is very clear and obvious when Bad Student Brett is faced backwards talking to Just Doesn’t Care Jim. Brett will be the one facing backwards. This seating chart makes it very easy to notice off task student behavior and helps to create the “all seeing” persona that is really useful for teachers to have.
The as-wide-as-possible spacing offers the teacher infinity avenues of approach and helps to develop the talking and whispering level of management because it’s very easy to crouch next to any student from any side at any time and whisper them into submission. Keeping students farther than arm distance apart from each other eliminates all hitting and kicking, and makes it more difficult for students to hold whispered conversations because they’re simply too far away to hear what each other are saying.
This setup also eliminates all the drama and arguments and other hobgoblinry that goes with assigning groups. Without doubt, no matter how you form groups, someone in every class will have had a problem with someone else that you assigned them to sit next to because they used to date, or their parents went to school together, or they played on opposing baseball teams last summer, or whatever. It’s just easier to tackle grouping problems when you’re more than a month deep into the school year.
Even in this setup, which isolates students as much as possible on purpose, it is still possible to have an interactive classroom. Turn and talk, think pair share, and response card activities all work perfectly well in this setup, and give students the much needed time to converse, while ensuring the conversations occur on your terms, not theirs.
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So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.