As a rotary teacher dealing with up to 180 students, building inclusion is naturally a different process than in a homeroom classroom. Establishing a rapport is definitely fundamental however, I have found that this goes hand in hand with effective classroom management. Eliminating the problem of constant chatting amongst groups of friends can go a long way to establishing order.
Instead of seating kids alphabetically or in random groupings, I have always let my students choose their seats for the first week or two. Taking this time to observe the dynamic of the classroom and work habits of the students ultimately allows me to make informed, strategic decisions about groupings. My decision is also based on the contact information form (see attached) which is filled out during the first week of school. The one side serves as a record of parent contact while the other provides me with invaluable insight into each student’s character. At the end, I have classes where the students are comfortable where and with whom they are seated. Preventatively dealing with the minor issues (that can quickly derail your class) allows me instead to focus on building an inclusive learning environment.
Additional tip: When implementing my seating plan, I put numbers on the seats and have students line up at the back of the room. Having called out their name and number, I have them find their seat. This way there tends to be less drama than in calling out the names which can sometimes lead to some raucous reactions. I also preface my announcement by stating that I had only their best interests at heart and therefore eliminate most forms of protest.