Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Assigned seats?????

When I first began teaching Kindergarten I hit the jackpot in more ways than one...

First of all I had dreamed of not only being a teacher but being a KINDERGARTEN teacher. I only  taught second grade one year and have been blessed to be in Kindergarten ever since.

Secondly,  I've had some amazing students and parents that I have been so fortunate to work with.

But thirdly.....I had the most unbelievable room!

It was HUGE.

Not only was it huge....but it had charm. High ceilings, wood trim and moldings painted red, storage and an entire wall of windows that went up to the ceiling.

However, this was the days before projectors, smart boards or even white boards. =)  The actual blackboards (well some were green too) in my room were not  even usable.

Yes...this was right before the blackboard paint came out too. =)

Once the first school year in this classroom began I soon realized that my approach to seating was going to have to be creative.  The room was a very long rectangle shape and since none of the blackboards were usable I covered them up with paper and used them as display space.  At one end of this huge rectangle I created a math meeting space (carpet area) for calendar and various other math activities. My husband built a huge easel that included a dry erase board.  At the other end of the rectangle we had another carpet area and another large dry erase easel for literacy activities. Everything that was taught whole group was taught from one of the two carpet areas.  My tables were spread out across the room and incorporated into centers. Once an activity was introduced from one of the carpet areas  and the whole class needed to be seated at a table at the same time it was really NOT a big deal. Each student just chose a spot and got to work.

Well...fast forward a few years and it was time to say goodbye to the old building. =(  In it's place we did get an amazingly beautiful new facility! This time complete with whiteboards, projectors and smart boards.  I've been in this new room for a while now but figuring out seating has always been and issue for me here. I LOVED not assigning seats! I liked to observe the choices the children made each day about who they would work with or socialize with. I feel it helped them in many ways to learn from each other.  At some point within my new space I decided I needed to start assigning seats.

I have no idea why.

Maybe I just had a difficult time at first arranging a square shaped room?  =)

This year I decided that after the first few weeks of the school year I wanted to give not assigning seats another try.  I did want to begin the year with assigned seats since this is what I've become used to and it also gives me a chance to put names with faces early in the year if they are assigned to one spot.

Yesterday was the big day! We gave it a try! It was amazing!

No arguing.

No running to pick a seat.

Everyone was engaged and working.

It was calm. Well okay as calm as a Kindergarten room can be.

We did meet and discussed the situation first. Everyone was very excited to give this a try.  I still have two carpet areas in my room to this day. One for literacy and one for math. I still give most of my whole group instruction from one of these two carpet areas.

Our Literacy Carpet Area

Our Math Carpet Area

So together we discussed that when picking a seat there would be no running, pushing arguing. The kids decided that if someone broke this rule they would have to move their clip down on our behavior ladder.

Right now I'm keeping community supplies on each table. As the year progresses we will begin using our writing tubs and the kids can just grab theirs before going to a spot if we are working on writing.

So now after two days without assigned seats I am hooked once more.  Here's a link to my classroom set up from before school started. I've moved some things around since then ( I LOVE to move my furniture around) but you'll get the general picture.  You'll also see my beginning of the year name tags!  Once we dive further into our writing workshop time I can't wait to see the stories that will develop and who will create projects with each other.

I'm just curious how many of you assign seats???
                                                                                      Mrs. M


  1. Wow! I am impressed. I am teaching kindergarten for my seventh year, and I LOVE it - I wouldn't have it any other way. I have always assigned seats. I have one large carpet area where I do my teaching, and the students' tables spread around. I have always started with assigned seats at tables (I like that the kids can check out their space at open house and know that a place is waiting for them). I usually do not start with assigned spots at our carpet area, but after about three days I feel like we need them. I do spend a lot of time trying to balance things out to make the best places for everyone, and it can be a lot of work. I am really intrigued by your post, and may give this open seating thing a try (at tables at first....) Do you find that they tend to gravitate to the same places day after day? I know when I go to adult classes, we are creatures of habit and usually end up sitting in the same spots every time.


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  2. Yes, some of the kids do gravitate towards the same spots. More often than not they try sitting in new areas. In my old room I didn't even require them to sit at a regular table. They could sit in our house area or reading center...wherever they were the most comfortable. Right now in this room we are still sitting at tables for our regular work. This is mainly so they can see my projector screen. I am however toying with the idea of letting them sit in other areas (our stage/reading area and house center,etc) for writing workshop. When I did this in the past the kids were more engaged and their stories seemed to be more creative. =) So far even my kids that have challenging behavior issues seem to be doing well without assigned seats. Let me know how it goes if you give it a try. =)

  3. I am slightly jealous. I had a similar room as your first one and then we moved buildings and the room was L shaped which I ended up loving. Now I am in a different school with a traditional room. I have a carpet in the front and tables take up the remainder of the room. Because of the computers and and ceiling projector on one side and mobile SmartBoard on the other, I have difficulty having two different meeting places or even wall space to turn two ways (although I have a chart stand on each side of my carpet). People always look at me strange that I don't tape or velcro down nametags. I like to move the chair seats around at least monthly. If it wasn't for the chairbags with their journals & folders, I'd let them move more. This is the first year that I have assigned carpet squares. I'd like to get us to a place where we can pick our own spots this year as well. I find the resource teachers have more trouble finding the students than it bothers them to select new seats.

  4. I'm still mourning over not having my old room (even though I've been in this one for quite some time now!) Though I do appreciate the air conditioning and not having to go up two flights up stairs with twenty five kindergartners! Technology is amazing but I just wish I could move it around my room a little easier! LOL

  5. I usually do not start with assigned spots at our carpet area, but after about three days I feel like we need them.
    cool math 4 kids


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