Wouldn't it be brilliant if, as teachers, we didn't have to worry about seating arrangements; the constant challenges of pairing students with sensible table buddies who will remain focused, work hard and possibly even share some sensible ideas rather than bickering their way through the school day. Wouldn't it also be brilliant if all our learners could enter a classroom, safe in the knowledge that they excel at something but often need a hand with something else, and that there are others in the classroom who they could help to push, or who could push them, forward.
These thoughts and challenges helped me to develop the idea of dynamic seating arrangements - giving children the opportunity to seat themselves based on how they believed that they could most positively affect the coming session.
As I discussed in my first blog, I firmly believe that the understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses is an integral part of developing a student led classroom. I put forward the idea of dynamic seating to my new year fives during a session of maths. We briefly discussed how some of us excelled in this subject and how others felt unsure (and how these feelings would almost certainly be different for all of us in every different subject that we study!) Our focus was rounding, so I tasked the students with considering how they had felt during our previous lesson on the same topic. Many were extremely confident and had shown an excellent level of understanding, whilst others had found the more basic aspects tricky. After a clear explanation of what my expectations were, I asked everyone to quickly and quietly dynamically seat themselves.
I have to admit that this concept was one which I had experimented with previously, during 2018-19. At that time the class had struggled with it and had taken around five attempts to produce harmonious and productive results, however, the class of 2019-20 were seated and ready for action extremely quickly. It had seemingly handed them the opportunity to work more closely with children who they, perhaps, felt more comfortable in the company of, and their confidence appeared to be thriving. Partnerships were, almost all, very sensible and support had been pitched appropriately (I hadn't managed to fully achieve that yet this year through telling them where they needed to sit!) Conversation was fully centred on the warm-up challenges which they were presented with, while progress was being quickly made. And, as the lesson advanced, I was impressed with the attitude of those that had taken up the roles of student teacher or who had taken the lead, particularly when compared with the disengaged, 'I don't want to work with him/her,' groans and faces that had been produced on many occasions over the past two weeks.
Major benefits witnessed today included: increased levels of enthusiasm; work that was on-task and that flowed; and the opportunity for my higher achievers to master their understanding by sharing their learning and knowledge with their lower ability partners. I was enormously proud of how the class had reacted and will, without doubt, be utilising this approach commonly over the coming weeks in a number of different subjects.
If you like the idea of dynamic seating, why not give it a go and let me know how it plays out in your own work space!