Next year I’ll be going into my sophomore year of high school. Throughout my eleven years of school I’ve had teachers who let us sit with our friends, teachers who assign seating, teachers who have couches for us to sit on, teachers who let us sit on the floor and even teachers who make us sit on the floor (this happened twice; in kindergarten and 8th grade). I’ve had classrooms that were so quiet it was borderline awkward, and then I’ve been in those classes that are so loud other teachers have to come in and tell us to be quiet. You could say I’ve seen it all.
Personally, I’ve always liked free-seating. In my experience, sitting next to my friends, especially at the beginning of the year when I don’t know everyone in my class, puts me at ease and helps me participate more in class. Also, I’ve noticed that the kids who usually are the loudest in the class will talk to anyone sitting near them, friend or not.
The way I see it, if I have to have someone talk my ear off for an hour, I’d rather it were my friend saying something interesting than just another loud classmate. Additionally, I’ve found that friends will find a way to communicate with each other in class even if they are sitting far apart. Once again this is just my opinion, but someone whispering quietly to the person next to them is pretty much always less distracting than someone yelling, waving their arms, and making weird faces to get someone’s attention from across the room.
Despite being against assigned seating, I do admit there are some good arguments for seating charts and teachers choosing the seating. As I said before, I’ve been in many a class that is out of control and often a seating chart can help calm if not completely get rid of distractions. However, these are extreme cases and I feel like the best approach might be what many of my teachers tend to use, which is to reward quieter, on-task classes with free seating and force distracted classes to sit separately from their friends.
Whether or not to have assigned seating should depend on the behavior of the class, giving the students a reason to stay on task. Ultimately, however, it is the teacher’s choice on whether or not a class should have assigned seats. But if you happen to be on the fence about it, my advice would be to let the students choose where they sit.