The key is to be firm and consistent. I learned this the hard way. I implemented a seating plan at the beginning of the year for my junior high class and gradually, it diminished into students sitting on the counters and in their small circles of friends. They were happy that way, and I was not. I was too lenient. I looked the other way when one or two students defied me and chose to sit wherever they wanted instead of where they were told, and eventually the rest of the class followed their example.
Finally, this month (I have no idea why it has taken me this long to do something about it – I think I’ve just been so preoccupied with a gazillion other things) I decided that enough was enough. I made a seating plan, and posted it on the board. They groaned and complained and yes, there was a handful that defied me. But I did not start class until every single student was in the seat assigned for them. It almost turned into a showdown when two girls still refused (one of them was about to get up and move but as soon as she sensed her friend was not moving, her whole body language told me she was not moving either). Thank God they eventually did sit, otherwise I would have to phone their parents tonight.
Well, no one was happy. Except me! Even my bright and keener students were frowning, but I was just so pleased that there was no more noise and that everyone was looking at me that I simply did not care. It was awesome.
The rest of the lesson was easy, so easy, to teach because no one wanted to talk to anyone beside them so their only option was to focus on the lesson. Even if it has taken me this long to figure out this one area of classroom management in a junior high class, I am thrilled.
After all, this is my first year of teaching.