A formal classroom seating chart...as in names written into little squares on a poster...does have a place in many situations (more on this below). But if you have mobile individual desks, then you need something much more flexible.
Because, as I discuss on on my classroom floor plan page, students will be moving desks throughout the year to facilitate learning and behavior objectives.
The teacher deals the cards
At the beginning of every year, I write the first name of every child on a small card. Then whenever I need to rearrange the room, I play "student solitaire" and move the cards around until I find a combination that will work.
It's a lot easier to move cards before you start moving desks!
There are situations where a child must move rather than the desk:
That's when classroom seating charts come into play; student and supplies (and name tag) have to pick up and move.
If your desks are immobile, starting the year with a chart that accommodates using pencil and eraser is a good idea for managing your classroom floor plan. You can get fancy with a computer program or buy a seating chart of some sort online, but you'll probably find that low-tech is good enough.
If you do have the option of giving kids their "own" desk, it is preferable. Kids like having a sense of control over their personal area in the classroom. It makes them feel good.
However...the children are really more renters than owners. They are not allowed to do anything they want with it; they must still comply with teacher standards regarding what's allowed inside and how messy it's allowed to get.
Click to this page for a video tour a messy student desk vs. an efficient one.
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