I would like to let you all in on a little secret: I seat my better students in the front of the room. Yes, against all teacher prep courses, I put in the back of the room the kids who goof off, the kids who get poor grades, the kids who have actively made it known they don't like the class. A colleague and coach at my school made a speech about what he does to promote success in his room, and promote positiveness in himself, and that is to put the kids who are positive in the front, close to him. So for the last five weeks I've had such a seating arrangement. And let me tell you, I spend much less time reprimanding and cajoling inattentive students into being on task.
As it happens I overheard a student today say, "She doesn't have any control over this class." This came fromt the middle of the room. I pointedly looked at him, told him I didn't care what he thought (even though he probably didn't think I could hear him), and went on to teach to the kids who did care and were paying attention. I think the kids in front appreciate it since I've had much more participation from any of them in the last five weeks than I did in the first twenty. I think I'll keep it this way.