Finding the Best Desk Arrangement for Your Class

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:

U-Shape

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Runway

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Table Groups

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Rows

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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4 Responses to “Finding the Best Desk Arrangement for Your Class”

  1. Marjorie RispinJanuary 19, 2012 at 4:18 am #

    Small classes?

  2. Michelle AvilaJanuary 17, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    That's also great if you have desks! I have 25 2nd grade students, 5- 5' diameter tables, 2 long rectangle tables with 6 computers on them, a coat closet, and 1/2 a dozen sets of shelves, file cabinets, a teacher desk, a carpet area and a small 3' diameter table I use for small group work. What is the best arrangement for all that?

  3. Michelle AvilaJanuary 17, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    That's also great if you have desks! I have 25 2nd grade students, 5- 5' diameter tables, 2 long rectangle tables with 6 computers on them, a coat closet, and 1/2 a dozen sets of shelves, file cabinets, a teacher desk, a carpet area and a small 3' diameter table I use for small group work. What is the best arrangement for all that?

  4. Ramona Kudej-GreenwoodJanuary 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    Desk arrangements seem great for 16 to 18 students with no other large equipment, bathroom, coat corner or computer corner: I have a classroom with the above mentioned additions with teachers desk and 23 student desks with a rug area to fit 23 students – second graders. Above arrangements don't work in our room size,