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I remember the old cartoons and movies that depicted classrooms. The students were all sitting in rows of desks. The teacher’s desk was there front and center in front of the chalkboard. My, how times have changed. Today our classrooms look different and students learn differently. There are many ways to arrange classrooms and group students for optimal learning. Here are a few ideas you can try in your classroom.
Depending on the age you teach, the degree of selecting seating arrangements will be on a sliding scale from teacher selection to student selection. At open house (our district runs this before schools starts for students to come meet their teacher, bring their supplies, etc.) I have my desks arranged into cooperative learning groups and let the students select where to sit. This seating chart may last a few days or a few weeks depending on the learning environment created. I feel it is important, however, to allow students to sit somewhere they are comfortable. If I can alleviate any anxiety on the first day of school by simply allowing students to select their seats, it sets up a more positive classroom environment. As long as learning is not stopped, the student will get to sit here for a few days.
There are a few fundamentals to consider when setting your classroom seating. Do you have students with glasses, hearing aids, other needs for sitting at the front? Do you have students with para support that will need to be seated on the end for adults to sit close to them for assistance? Often times arranging desks feels like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle. As you learn your students, it can be done fairly painlessly throughout the year. I always know my signal to change desks is when student behavior starts to become an issue. Talking, not completing work and activities taking longer than I had planned are good signals it is time to change things up a bit.
A tradition seating arrangement is placing desks in rows. Sitting students in rows allows for all students to see the front of the room and be facing the teacher. This method works well if you are in a classroom where presentations, interactive lessons on a projector or Smart board and lecture are the primary instructional methods. This method allows for pair and share, be sure to set students in even numbers in the rows so partners work out. If you are using this seating arrangement, make sure student desks are touching and not spread out (think back to Charlie Brown) to increase student interaction and therefore increase learning.
Many elementary classrooms use cooperative learning and this is easily facilitated by placing students desks in groups. Seating students together in pods of four or six will allow for group work and increased communication. This works well when projects, labs, cooperative group work, the jigsaw method or activities are use as the primary instructional method. Be sure students are sitting so they can see the board when someone is presenting or lecturing. You do not want to place half of the students with their backs to the front of the room. Depending on the make-up of your classroom, it is usually best to group students into varying ability and learning styles. This allows for groups to use each other’s strengths when working. If you set students of like ability or learning style together, be sure to have a purpose in this grouping.
Beyond the students desks, you should think about the layout of your classroom for comfort, ease and to invite learning and exploration. The teacher’s desk has moved from it’s prominent place front and center, to a side area for a work space or office. Other areas of the room include books, art supplies and manipulative needed for student work. These areas should be organized for students to use and return items. Think about 25 students accessing these areas at once, it is best to have them on open shelves in the middle of the wall instead of tucked into a corner. You may also have carpets or learning center needs. Again, think about the number of students who will need to access this area at one time and arrange the area for ease of flow.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"]You should think about the layout of your classroom for comfort, ease and to invite learning and exploration. Click To Tweet
You don’t need an engineering degree to map out and plan a seating chart for your classroom. Think about your teaching style and the needs of your students. Arrange students so they are able to learn from each other and complete the activities, projects, labs, assignments and readings needed for the curriculum in your classroom. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to move things around when something is not working.