Hi new teacher! If the desks look like this, and you are not doing a special activity, I recommend moving “desks” up to the front of your discipline improvement strategy. Desk placement should become a priority. I won’t spend time on exactly where to put desks; The internet provides plenty of charts and advice.
It’s easy to let the desks slide, literally and figuratively. There’s so much to do! Especially in states demanding the Common Core, material expected to be covered may seem daunting with an academically-challenged group. When Enzo pushes his desk toward the heater, you may decide to let that desk shift. Enzo wants to be warmer. You want to be kind.
Eduhonesty: That kindness will make your life more difficult. Once Enzo moves, Jessie will want to move beside the heater, too. Genesis will push away from the back row toward the back wall. Marisombra will turn a desk to face a friend. Some of the changes will be understandable and innocuous. Genesis may even do better in isolation against that back wall. But now you are dealing with a shifting students who believe they have a right to shift at will. They may sense they are taking advantage of your kindness, but if their moving desks allow them to talk to friends more easily, some desks will gyre and gimble in the wabe, and certain mome raths will be outgrabing every chance they get. Meanwhile, you will be trying to get all that slithery talking and commotion to stop so other students can hear you explain your Google slides or PowerPoint.
The desk line needs to hold. The seating chart needs to hold. While YOU can relax that chart by creating groups for your new project and reassigning students, students must understand that YOU choose the seats.
Controlling desk and student placement saves minute after minute, hour after hour. Student distractions are minimized and students become more likely to work instead of trying to find out just how many inches they can go toward the heater or that friend on the left. Every distraction you can eliminate becomes one more win for learning, and minutes saved will add up steadily as the year goes by.
It’s late in the year. You can still take a stand on desks, however. Explain why the system is changing. Explain why you expect desks to stay in place, emphasizing the loss of learning time that has occurred because of desk movement. Then make those desks and associated student movement a priority. Call parents if you must. Write referrals if you must. Issue reminders throughout the day.
Seating sometimes gets neglected because of the sheer size of the teaching workload, and the struggle to prioritize as you begin to learn your craft. But not much that you do matters more than where you sit certain students with respect to other students. An appearance of order will also provide subtle support in other ways. Kids tend to behave better in neater and cleaner surroundings.
Have a great week!