Seating situations...

I've posted before about my seating arrangement (ball chairs).  This year, I want to take it one step farther and give my students more choices.  I want to try open seating and allow them to chose their learning spots within the room. 

I had the great experience of having my friends and coworkers' sons in my room. I loved them both for different reasons... One could melt me with his big blue eyes (Z) and the other had me with his sense of humor and dry wit (K). Both boys enjoyed talking... Sometimes to each other :).  Open seating might be a challenge for these personalities. What continues to amaze me is that firsties know and fully understand the expectations.

One day, K and I had this conversation:

K: Ummm.... Mrs. Smyth, I have a problem.
Me: What's up?
K: I need to switch seats because I can't get any work done. I just want to talk to the kids at my table. Me: Okay, where do you want to sit? (K looked thoughtfully around the room.)
K: I don't know. I would pretty much talk to everyone here.
Me: Well, no man is an island, K. Pick a spot and get to work.
K: I have no idea what you are talking about half the time. (shaking his head)
Me: Most people don't, honey!

Although this conversation speaks to the relationship I have with K (we share the same sense of humor!), I share this because part of growing and becoming responsible is making choices in learning and the environment that each of us chooses to be a part of in the room. K understood his needs and his temptations. He ended up working with a clipboard by the front of the room. THIS is huge for a little person. Not everyone will come to this on their own. That's where we come in :).

My favorite question is: "How do you think your work is going while you sit here? Is this spot working for you and the people around you?"  But, is this enough to prompt responsible choices?  I have always given my kiddos the choice of moving to an empty table or the floor... but this would be HUGE.  I'm not sure how to make them feel secure in their space, but still allow them to choose.  Many students want a space of their own.  Coming from kindergarten, they will still be a bit timid in regards to the norms of school.  I think for the first week, they will have an assigned spot.  This will give me time to get to know them and learn their needs.  After that... I'll be ditching the name plates.  This part isn't new for me- they have always bugged me (another rant for another time).

I know another teacher in my district who doesn't assign seats to her first grade class.  My plan is to email her and ask to meet up the week before school starts.  We share many of the same teaching philosophies, so I believe this would be a good learning fit for me (See how even teachers need to make responsible learning choices?  Hee, hee!).

So, I'll put it out there.... do you assign seats?  If not, how did you start the year off?