“It’s so much easier to manage students when they are at the rug.” I’ve overheard this several times in the workroom and at professional developments, but I think that this is only partially true. So, I wanted to take some time to address this.
Yes, there are some advantages to having your students at the class rug. They are all in one spot, you can easily see them, and they don’t have anything with them to distract them.
But, there are also downsides to it. It’s more difficult to move around and use proximity when the students are sitting so close together. And, it doesn’t work well if you need the students to be doing any writing. You have to have the students get their pencils and clip boards, and then wait for those students who forget to awkwardly climb over their peers and spend forever digging through their desk trying to find their pencil.
I would say that it is easier to manage students when they are at the rug for some types of instruction. But, for other times it is just easier to have them at their desks. Don't limit yourself by only teaching at the rug! You can teach your students wherever they are sitting if you just manage them correctly. So, if you are a teacher who avoids having your students stay at their desks while you instruct them, or if have your students stay at their desks but they are out of control, read on.
This first tip I have to credit to my amazing coworker who shared this idea with me. It saved my life! Plus, it’s as simple as having your students change the way their chairs face. All you need to do is teach your students these 2 chair positions. (Note: This will not work for all seating arrangements. This is meant for arrangements in which the desks aren’t facing the front of the classroom, such as some table group arrangements.)
The first chair position is called learning position. This means having your students turn their chairs and their bodies to face the front of the class, folding their arms, and looking at you. (If you are confused, don't worry. I thought of you and included a diagram to show what in the world I am talking about.) If you have a compatible seating arrangement, this means that your students will have their desk to the side of them. This helps to discourage students from playing with anything because they can’t hide it as easily, plus it is now easy for you to see when their arms aren’t folded. (If you have a student who still plays with things in their desk, turn their desk around so that the desk opening isn’t facing them anymore.) It also makes it so none of the students are facing each other, so they are less likely to talk. Have your students turn into learning position whenever you are instructing them and they don’t need to be writing or doing anything they need a hard surface for at the moment.
If you need your students to be able to write during your instruction, then simply have them turn into the second position, which is called working position. All this means is that the students turn out of learning position to face their desk again.
This next tip works no matter your seating arrangement, and it is essential to managing your students throughout the day, but especially when they are at their desks. Proximity. I know that you have probably heard this term hundreds of times, but it is key to managing your students when you instruct them at their desks. Walk around the classroom while you instruct. This keeps the kids on their toes because they don’t know when you will walk by them. So, if you notice a student misbehaving, simply walk over to their desk and instruct the class from there. The students won’t think anything of it, but most of the time it corrects their behavior.
Lastly, I highly recommend having a table group or row management system. So, if you have your students sitting in table groups or rows, reward the tables that are following directions while you instruct them. It can be as simple as giving them points and then giving a reward to the first table group to get to a certain amount of points.
These are just a few ways to help manage your students at their desks, but I know that you fabulous teachers have so many more ideas. If you do, please share your wisdom with all of us and comment below!
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.