A new year often brings the desire to switch things up. One of the easiest ways to do this in the classroom is with a new seating arrangement. But before you start shuffling desks around, take time to consider a few things.
New seating arrangements often fill students with both excitement and worry. It’s a chance for students to get to know each other or break up disruptive students. However, there are a few things to consider: Franklin Hill of Franklin Hill & Associates suggests no student should be more than 15 feet from the instructional source (a teacher, projector screen, etc.). Also, avoid seating arrangements that put students at awkward viewing angles. This might be easier said than done depending on your classroom, but it’s important to remember so that no student is at a disadvantage.
Need a little inspiration? Here are a few popular layouts:
This arrangement is great for interaction. Every student can keep their eye on the teacher, but students also face each other, which is good for classroom games and discussion. It gives teachers room to move and get close to students for personal interaction. In classes with younger students, it even provides room for story time. It’s also known as the “dance floor” arrangement, which gives you an idea of the energy it’s supposed to promote.
If you like to be front and center, try this modification of the dance floor arrangement. With an aisle down the center of the room and the two sections of desks facing each other, the teacher is always the center of attention. Students can use this arrangement for debates and group conversation.
This arrangement lends itself to group work, which can be both a plus and a minus. It’s important for students to work together and learn teamwork, not to mention that it can be fun. On the other hand, when left to their own devices for too long, these groups can sometimes create their own rules and hierarchy. If you need a way to group students beyond the standard rectangular desks, School Outfitters has trapezoid- and diamond-shaped desks that can be used in an array of configurations.
If you need students to concentrate, old-fashioned rows are an option. This puts the attention on the instructor and creates a formal atmosphere. However, with growing class sizes, this arrangement makes it difficult for teachers to move around the room and interact with students in the back.
Do you have a favorite seating arrangement? Does your classroom present particular challenges?