Before allowing students to choose where they want to sit, we place them in different spots around the room. We want them to experience a variety of places and positions so they discover several options where they can be successful.
One of the foundation lessons we teach before providing choice is to keep their options open. We say, “Have a first choice and a second choice ready, in case someone is already sitting in your first choice.” This usually works very well. If we have a child who responds with resentment when having to go to his or her second choice, we shift the focus from two spaces to many. This subtle shift changes the perception from that of a preferable and less-preferable spot to one of numerous possibilities where everyone can be a comfortable and successful learner.
During the launching phase when students are being placed around the room, we ask them to make a mental list of all the spots that have been a good fit for them—the more the better. When they are able to choose, we ask them to move safely and quietly to one of the many spots where they are comfortable and to continue adding successful choices to their mental list. Having so many options alleviates the win/lose mentality and allows everyone to choose well each and every time.