Does your seating plan impact on the support you give to certain students?

I recently completed an observation with our Year 1/2 teacher and a supporting SSO. The purpose of the observation was to determine if some students were missing out on 1:1 support and if others were getting significantly large amounts of 1:1 time. The class was a maths problem solving lesson and involved the teacher and an SSO (SSO role was to support all students).

There are many things that contribute to who receives support in a classroom, level of student knowledge, disruptive behaviour, who puts their hand up etc. While these have all been discussed as part of the follow up to the observation it was interesting to observe a pattern in the data linked to student seating in the classroom. This was not something we had been looking for.

Note: This photo was not taken during the observation but later when most students were out of the classroom.


Connections between student support data and the seating plan:

  • The boxes containing a percentage represent a student and where they sit. The percentage represents the amount of 1:1 teacher time they received during the lesson.
  • The yellow students are in the central walk way. Even without the data it was obvious the movement of teacher and SSO was back and forth through this area.
  • The large coloured box is the average 1:1 time for each coloured section.
  • The yellow students received 33% more 1:1 support time than the green students.
  • The yellow students received 48% more 1:1 time than the red students.
  • On average the yellow students received approximately 41% more 1:1 time than the rest of the class.
  • Interestingly the lowest student (blue 1%) is not clearly linked to any path the teacher or SSO was taking. This was due to limited space between this student and the desks behind them.
  • Interestingly not all percentages are equal. During my observations it was clear that the yellow students received more consistent support. Yellow students got regular feedback. The green student who got 5% support time received all of this in the last few minutes of a 50 minute lesson. A yellow student with the same percentage of support was receiving help then 10 minutes later had the teacher/SSO checking in with them to see how they had gone. This pattern of less consistent support was observed with almost all red and green students.

This data is from a single lesson so it is hardly conclusive but it does make for an interesting discussion.

Does your seating plan create a path that you unconsciously follow? If so does this mean some students get more access to your support due to where they sit?

One thought on “Does your seating plan impact on the support you give to certain students?

  1. I have been thinking about this in relation to the Year 9/10 class. I think it can have a large impact. I would like to have students seated around tables to allow for better access. Currently the students, especially the boys prefer sitting in rows. Both Raf and I have noticed that students will move tables back if we rearrange them. I have suggested that we could use larger surplus library tables to “break” them out of this habit( I think it’s an avoidance measure).

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