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Ask an Expert: My son's classroom seat keeps changing

Q. My son came home and told me that his class changed seats again. I noticed they had just changed seats about two weeks ago. I also noticed that my son did not change seats again and he continues to sit in the corner by the door. He cried and said he is tired of sitting in the corner. What is the best way to approach his teacher with this? Yes, my son asked his teacher to move seats and she said, “no.” She refused to give him an answer. This really angers me. Please help.

A. As a teacher, creating seating charts is always something that I dread. Seating charts are one of those things where there is no way to make everybody happy. To me, whenever I create a seating chart I feel like I’m putting together a giant puzzle with too many pieces.

It often seems like there is no way to make everything fit perfectly each time. The purpose of a seating chart is to group and move students so that they are in the best learning orchestration possible for that instructional time period.

Students often don’t see the purpose behind their seats or read more into their assigned seat than is there. It is important for students to understand that sometimes their seat won’t be the seat they would choose, but it will be a seat that they will be productive in and that his or her seat assignment will change again and again over the course of the school year.

Students need to be able to communicate with the teacher about their needs, when it comes to a seating chart, as well as listen to the teacher about the reasoning behind those seats. This is an important skill for students to develop as it will help them in future endeavors and realistically, seating charts are a part of their school experience the whole way through.

Tips to help a student approach a teacher

  • Help your son articulate why he wants a different seat so that when he talks to his teacher about it he can share that with him/her. “Sitting by the door is hard for me because I’m easily distracted by what’s going on in the hallway. Is it possible for me to have a different seat?” Or, “From the corner of the room I find it harder to participate in class. Would it be possible to move me closer?” These two approaches are very different from, “Can I have a different seat?” The first two responses communicate why your son wants to move instead of putting the teacher in the position of guessing why he wants a different seat.
  • Have your son try to talk to the teacher outside of the class time, before or after school, at lunch, during passing time, etc. This creates a situation where the teacher has the opportunity to explain his or her reasoning behind the seat assigned to your son as well as provides your son the chance to explain why he’d like a different seat.
  • Have your son ask about his seat for the next seating chart. If the teacher is making seating changes every two weeks, then another change is coming. By talking to the teacher before they make the changes, it allows them to include your son’s request in the considerations to keep in mind as they create the next seating chart.

If your son doesn’t feel like he’s getting anywhere after he tries to talk to his teacher again, then it’s time for you to step in and communicate his concerns to the teacher. When talking to the teacher here are some talking points.

Talking to your child’s teacher

  • Share with the teacher why your son is bothered by this seat. Students sometimes have a hard time communicating what is bothering them and if your son is really upset, he may not be getting out the message he wants when he talks to his teacher. This will guarantee that your son’s voice is heard and allow the teacher to respond based on that information.
  • Ask the teacher to share the reasoning behind why your son is sitting where he is. This acknowledges that the teacher has a purpose for the seat, but also allows you to get more of a big picture understanding of the reason behind the seat assignment.
  • Share with the teacher that your son feels he didn’t get a response when he tried to ask for a new seat. This gives the teacher the opportunity to reflect on that conversation and share any information with you if necessary.
  • Inquire if it’s possible to get a new seat. If it isn’t, ask when the next new seating chart will be out and if your son can be placed in a new seat then.
  • If after this conversation you feel that you still aren’t being heard by the teacher and your son is still frustrated by his seat, it might be worth talking to the school counselor or principal. This will give you the opportunity to continue the conversation and work towards a solution that allows your son to get the most out of his classroom experience.

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