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Maintaining Classroom Discipline: A Seating Chart is a Substitute's Best Friend

Classroom © by hpeguk

You step into the high school in high spirits. That substitute teaching job you've wanted has become a reality. After collecting the teacher's lesson plans from the main office, you find the classroom and shuffle through the packet. The plans are there. So are class rosters. You don't find seating charts. You can make it. Smooth sailing, right?

Think again!

Veteran substitute teachers know better. A seating chart is a substitute teacher's best friend when it comes to maintaining classroom discipline. A new substitute means "fresh meat" to high school students. Before the day even begins, word will get out, and you'll find yourself straggling out the door in the afternoon, those early-morning high spirits a distant memory.

Quickie seating charts to head them off at the pass.

Experienced substitute teachers learn quickly where the land mines lie. There are quick fixes that prevent them from being ambushed by recalcitrant students. Your hastily constructed seating charts will force students to think twice before answering to the wrong name on an attendance roll call. They'll soon learn not to write down "Mike Hunt" (pronounce it) as their name. It will also ensure that students who wish to be counted present will sit in their assigned seats.

  • Before class, sketch out a seating chart using a small rectangle to signify each seat in the classroom. Mark the location of the teacher's desk and the door for proper alignment.
  • Make a copy of this blank chart, or have a responsible student duplicate it for you, for each class of the day.
  • After students arrive, tell them to be sure they are in their assigned seats because you will be taking roll using that seating chart. If they tell you they don't have assigned seats, ask them to sit where they usually sit.
  • Pass the chart around the classroom, asking them to write their first and last names on the seating chart while you proceed with the lesson's instructions. Take a quick count of the number of warm bodies in the room.
  • At a convenient time, but as quickly into the lesson as you can after students complete the chart, do a quick roll call aloud. Instruct students to raise their hands high when their names are called. As each student responds, place a check mark over the name on the sheet, noting that each student is in the right seat.
  • Count the names on the chart. The tally should agree with the number of bodies in the room. If not? Mission control, we have a problem. Fix it.
Seating charts become a working tool throughout the class.

The process doesn't take long. Completing the chart may come with a few groans and snickers, but students will know you mean business. You can smile and go about your day.

Use the chart to jot down any interruptions or issues that develop. Have students mark down exit and re-entry times on the chart if they leave the class for any reason. Make any comments to the teacher about individual students on the chart. Students will soon get the message that they will be accountable to the classroom teacher the next day.

Although seemingly simple, a seating chart is one of the best weapons a substitute teacher can have in maintaining classroom discipline. If in doubt, try a day or two in the combat zone without one. Both you and your students will appreciate having it.

Let's do it again!

Now that you're well on your way to becoming a top-notch substitute teacher with great classroom management skills, you can find even more jobs. Many substitutes have turned to to help them keep the jobs coming on a regular basis. To learn more, contact us or visit our website.

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