The Pros and Cons of Seating Charts

The Pros and Cons of Seating Charts

Samantha Brown and Emerson Marquez

In schools across America, many teachers believe in using seating charts in their classrooms, but does this method actually work? In this article, we will focus on the pros and cons that seating charts have and how they affect the work habits of students.

To start us off, seating charts can help teachers separate talkative friends, move around students who are in need of help, move students who need to be more engaged with the class, and change students seats when they are being disruptive so teachers can keep an eye on them. “Seating charts are there to not only diminish the chance of anarchy but to also grant all jurisdiction to the teacher,” commented eighth grader Stella Dommer, “This is crucial because if the teacher was not a part of regulating the overall structure of groups, the preference of who works with whom could lead to unbalanced teams.”

An image of a seating chart that a teacher here at Dana uses to keep track of their students.


Ms. Bologna, a 7th-grade teacher here at Dana Middle School says, “I think it’s [seating charts] good for both sides, both teachers and students. For teachers, it establishes management for their classrooms and it boosts their expectation. For students, it gives them ownership for that space. If that child feels safe in their space, and  they work effectively in that space then I don’t see any problems with seating charts… at the beginning of the year it helps me put names to faces.”

A study done by Angela Hammang from Montana State University proves that when the teachers were able to pick where the students were sitting in a seating chart, the students performed almost two times better, and teachers had an easier time with allowing their students to be more open with them. For instance, Hammang wrote, “The results showed that teacher chosen seating arrangements yielded better performances across the entire population. When investigating higher- and lower performing students, the high performers accomplished significantly better results with the aid of teacher chosen seats, whereas the lower-performers showed no improvement with any seating method. The findings also revealed that, within my student interview group, there was a significant improvement in all performance levels with the teacher chosen seats.”

Finally, seating charts can help the teacher with keeping track of people that are absent or sitting in the wrong seat at the wrong time. This can help teachers keep accurate attendance of their students and to make sure they don’t accidentally mark people absent.

On the other hand, some people may believe that seating charts are detrimental to students because teachers are making the seating charts for students they don’t yet know, which usually happens at the beginning of the year. The kids they are putting close together could be best friends or worst enemies. Teachers don’t know yet if they are putting the wrong people together, which can cause some issues. When kids are forced to sit next to students that they don’t necessarily get along with, they may actually perform worse in class.

Another con is that having no seating charts could be a great thing for students who are introverts. When they are sitting next to friends, they will be more likely to speak up and participate in the class. An article written by the Professional Reading Board states, “Some students prefer sitting near doors and windows as it provides them with sufficient distractions to escape the monotony of lessons taught. Pranks, whispering, the passing of notes, doodling, etc. are frequent among students who generally sit in the back Therefore, seating arrangements may be a cause for the decline of student performance as attention span, concentration, comprehension and the retaining of information can be influenced by where the student chooses to sit.” The evidence given proves that when seating charts are placed into a classroom, it may cause students to perform worse because of possible distractions such as other students, windows, etc.

The last con is that in giving students the choice to choose where they sit, it will put a responsibility on them to make sure they aren’t talking to friends/getting distracted. It could help them learn how to practice self-control and self-discipline.

In the end, certain classes seating charts may be useful to the teacher because of the way the class is taught and what is taught. Classes such as Math, History, and P.E. are mostly straight forward classes that usually don’t have a creative aspect to it. Classes such as English and Science do have some creative aspects to it, mostly depending on the teacher and grade. Those classes may warrant a seating chart because certain things may need to be taught that some students may not find interesting so they may get uninterested and get distracted. But in electives most of these classes have no curriculum, thus meaning that seating charts may not be necessary.