First Day Seating Tip

I just wanted to share a little first day seating tip with you that I have been doing for years.  Actually, it didn't seem like much of a tip until I was talking to a colleague about it and she said that she had never thought of that before and it sounded like a blog post to her! ;)

Where will each student choose to sit?
Anyway, the first day of school, I intentionally leave all of the seats open.  I don't put name tags down at all.  I allow the students to sit next to whomever they wish and wherever they would like. 

I know.  I gasp just went out amongst some of you. 

How could I leave such an uncertainty up to chance?  What if the kids choose the wrong person to sit next to?   They may.....TALK!  Ahhhh! 

Yeah, I know.

But here is why I do it.

By allowing the students to sit where they want on the first day, they are telling me a few things.  First, I am able to see who is an "eager beaver" and who is a "shrinking violet".  I can easily spot those who are staying back and those who race to the front to be near me.  Secondly, I can tell who is friends with whom.   Kids (just like adults) tend to sit with their friends when given a choice.  Third, and most importantly, the talkers show themselves immediately.  They just can't contain their excitement...and couple that with sitting by their friends....

By allowing the students this little freedom in the beginning of class, I am able to gauge them and get an immediate feeling for who they are as a whole and individually. 

What is one way you get a feel for your class in those first few hours of your first day?


  1. This is how I do it too!! I actually let them sit wherever they want the first few days. I'm always interested in who decides to move away from someone else and try somewhere else. I try to be honest and tell my kids that eventually I'll start assigning seats and this helps me figure out who they should and should not sit next to.

  2. I usually put name tags on their desks and balance out boys and girls, kids with needs, etc.

    I am going to fifth grade and the kids will be changing classes. I am going to give your way a try this year. There are three schools merging and it will be interesting to see how the kids do…Thanks for the tip!

  3. I do this too, but I always tell them that I will be moving desks/people within a few days. So they know up front this is not their "permanent" seat. You do get a lot of info from this one little thing! And I really do think that that first day it helps with the nervous kids. Besides at least they get to sit by their goods friends once during the school may not happen again! Lol!

  4. I put name tags down and have them sit in alphabetical order for the first week, because by the end of that week I usually have all the names memorized. Then I start moving them around the second week. :)
    ~Amanda from His and Her Hobbies

  5. Just had this discussion today with a first-year teacher on my team! I have done this for many years and have found that it helps me to know a little more about my students from the beginning. The first-year teacher's response, "I hadn't thought of that!"

  6. Thank you for sharing! I begin student teaching in January. I wonder how this would work for me since I will be new but it will be the middle of the year for the students? Any thoughts?

  7. My method is similar to yours with some of the same goals. In addition I will have each student write his or her preferred name on the individual whiteboard at the desk. I then take pictures of each student with the whiteboard showing the name as well as the table groupings of students. I also take an entire class shot at the chosen seats. I tell my students that my homework is to learn their names and I have my study guide to help me remember and review.

  8. I do the Same thing!! The parents kind of freak out because they are stunned that their child can sit anywhere. ha ha! I love do that because the kids are so excited and then I move them the next day.
    Thrills in Third Grade

  9. Love this! I'm definitely going to see how this goes for me this year!

  10. Great minds think alike! That is exactly what I do and why I do it! It really is a wonderful way to learn about the class from minute one!

  11. I do this, too. I also ask them to fill out a card that tells me who they want to sit next to, who they CAN sit next to, and who they CAN'T sit next to. I use what they tell me with what I observe to create their seating arrangement. I do get a lot of parent calls and notes the first few days of school telling me that they want their child moved!

  12. Okay, I really love this idea. However, we have Meet the Teacher night the week before and the parents like to come and help their children prepare their belongings and inevitability want to see where they are seating. Is this something that you deal with or would you be able to provide any insight for how to help me achieve this? I would like to actually meet my students before I make any "permanent" seating arrangements. This is my first year teaching fifth grade and I would love any advice. I love your blog and your resources on TPT!! They ROCK!


  13. I worry about the new kids and those who are not popular. I don't want anyone feeling left out the first day of school, so I assign seats. Sixth grade is an awkward year socially.

    1. I agree, I hate seeing that one child feeling sad because she/he couldn't sit next to a friend, or worse yet the child that has no friends yet in that class. I assign seats in sixth grade from day one based on glasses (front -vision can change a lot in middle school) and general size (larger children sit on the edges of the room), and special needs children - active children in back so they can stand, or easy access to teacher for reinforcement or general help.


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