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Making the move to digital

Allie Palmer from MINTclass looks at why it's important for teachers to move to digital planning

Posted by Hannah Oakman | September 29, 2016 | Technology

When seating plans aren’t given sufficient thought, it can have a negative impact on students, creating the potential for classroom disruption and poor behaviour. Many schools still use traditional paper-based methods to create their seating and lesson plans and note individual student’s behaviour, but this method isn’t particularly effective or productive. 

The lead up to the beginning of the academic year, and each new term, involves huge amounts of planning for teachers. Finding ways to reduce this planning is paramount. With the influx of digital technology available to teachers, creating seating plans needn’t be a longwinded process, and actually digitised versions have a lot of benefits that traditional paper plans don’t. 

Using digital versions inevitably cuts the planning time associated with seating plans while retaining their traditional effectiveness. When Greenshaw School in Surrey made the transition, the results spoke for themselves. George Bligh, iLearning co-ordinator and governor at the school, said: 'Before, teachers were using PowerPoint or basic spreadsheets which was time-consuming and a bit disorganised. Now, it’s so much easier! They have a classroom layout set up for them and simply have to choose which students sit where by ‘dragging and dropping’ them in their seats.”

Using digital versions inevitably cuts the planning time associated with seating plans while retaining their traditional effectiveness

With all the data managed centrally, teachers can quickly arrange and rearrange students as many times as required throughout the year, without the headache of having to redo plans from scratch as soon as a new student joins, for example. Teachers can also quickly identify individuals, pupil premium students or vulnerable groups. 

At Tolworth Girls’ School, teachers are able to view students’ key information such as target grades. Damien Mitchelmore, senior assistant headteacher explained: “Information on students with complex social backgrounds was previously held in different pockets, not centralised.”

It’s also particularly useful for cover teachers; within seconds they are able to identify students and their positions within the class. This means minimal disruption at the beginning of the lesson and associations can be made with special educational needs students, or those with poor behaviour, immediately. Often alphabetical or boy/girl/boy plans aren’t the most effective; reviewing this data enables teachers to create more efficient working environments.

Towers School in Kent have also used their digital seating planner resource to assess which students cause the greatest problems, identify where the disruptions were coming from, and move pupils accordingly.

While positioning students may not appear to be as much of a focus as progress and attainment, it is important for teachers to recognise and understand that with the right resources and preparation, it can actually contribute towards students’ future success. 


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