Over the years, I've learned that seating charts are beneficial for older students, especially with larger classes. Although some would argue that after reaching a certain maturity level, students should have the freedom to sit wherever they want, I'm still a fan of assigned seating for the following reasons:
1. It makes attendance easy. It also makes it easier to monitor who comes in late and who leaves early. Tardy students can't slip into a back corner seat and hope you won't notice, and it's more difficult for someone to slip out early if he or she knows it will be obvious from the empty seat. It also alleviates the problem of attendance when there is a substitute.
2. Studies show that a carefully crafted seating arrangement can enhance learning, especially for those who are struggling.
3. Assigned seating creates structure and sets a tone of order at the beginning of the school year.
4. Students are less distracted if they aren't sitting next to their best friends or social groups.
5. Students get to know other students that are not in their social group, and loners or those who feel left out are not as isolated. This is especially enhanced when you assign projects to small groups sitting close together.
Of course with a batch of new students, you don't necessarily know who should be seated together for optimal academic performance, or who should be separated. Reserve the right to change up the seating chart at any time, or at times, I've even had a regular schedule for a seating chart shuffle, say once a month.