Classroom Management

An Easier Way to Assign New Seats

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just make one set of seating charts and use it for the whole quarter, semester or year? The reality is, you probably won’t get your seating charts “right” on the first try. I know I never do. There are always changes that need to be made based on student behavior and personalities.

Up until a few years ago, I assigned seats by calling students one at a time and pointing to their spots. While this method technically “worked”, it was always chaotic. The students didn’t listen, leading to a million versions of, “Wait- where do I sit Mrs. Heyn?” In addition, students would cheer or act visibly annoyed based on which names were called before and after theirs.

So, now I do things a bit differently.

During the very first art class, I have students make portfolios, which have the students’ names written clearly on the front. I make up the seating charts during the first week of school. The second time the students come and see me, their portfolios are already sitting at their assigned seats.

After carpet time, I just say, “Ok, go ahead and find your seats.” It is so much easier!

setting out portfolios before students arrive eliminates chaos

You might be thinking, “That sounds so great, but I only have 5 minutes (or no minutes!) in between my classes. I can’t do that!” While it is trickier this way, it’s not impossible. I actually used this method during a schedule when I had back-to-back classes. The key is preparation.

If you have to dole out the portfolios in a flash, here’s the trick.

After you make the seating charts, make a pile of portfolios for each table. Have students line up a few minutes early at the end of your first class and play a simple game in line like telephone while you quickly pass out the portfolios for the next class. Having them in separate piles will make this easier.

Admittedly, this system takes some time up front. It takes a rotation of classes where you may be running around like a crazy person at the end of each class, but it is so worth it.

Do you assign seats in your classroom? How often do you change them? 

What system works for you?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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