Seating Arrangements in the Classroom There are various classroom seating
There are various classroom seating arrangements a teacher can choose from. The physical structure of the learning environment can have varying implications that encompass learning objectives, desired (or undesired) outcomes and even peer and other social implications. Throughout this article, I will examine the most popular TESOL seating arrangements and attempt to show the social implications it has among students and teachers. Also discussed will be the advantages and disadvantages of respective seating organization.
This seating arrangement is known as desk rows or traditional seating (Ramsden). Although it is ideal for classroom management in a regular school setting, for the purposes of language learning, it is less than ideal. For instance, this classroom layout is not conducive for group/pair work in that it inhibits students from easily communicating (Emmer). This arrangement is also thought to be too teacher-centred, which implies student talking time will be diminished. This seating arrangement also has its benefits. Problem behaviour and peer intimidation is less frequent and this promotes learning objectives and desired outcomes set by the teacher (Marzano). For obvious reasons, this setting also prohibits students from cheating on tests (Holtrop).
One of the most popular seating arrangements for a language class is known as cluster seating (Ramsden). Students sit in groups or three or more and a major advantage to this style of seating is the fact that student can openly communicate easily and efficiently (Emmer). This seating plan is also very student centred and enables increased student talking time, while prevents too much teacher talking time and leads the teacher to assume the role of facilitator (Holtrop). A teacher should mix the grouping so that stronger students are paired with weaker students in the hopes that everyone will learn homogeneously (Poulou). A major disadvantage however, deals with classroom management, problem behaviour and negative peer interaction. Groups of students tend to talk about unrelated issues (often in their native language) and this can lead to classroom management problems. Grouping students who do not get along may also cause foreseeable problems later on (Good). Although there are ample benefits to the cluster arrangement, the disadvantages can create challenging issues that the teacher must contend with. Generally, a teacher who chooses this seating arrangement must be mindful of the various sociological implications it creates. Another popular seating arrangement is known as the horseshoe or half circle (Holtrop). This arrangement has similar characteristics with the cluster seating arrangement. This arrangement in particular allows a greater frequency of student participation (Ramsden). The main advantage to this classroom organization is the fact that the teacher can see all students at all times and this can aid in giving clear and direct instructions, and it helps with classroom management or other potential problem behaviour (Poulou). Like the cluster, students may show problem behaviour more frequently because of peer interaction. That being said, everyone can see the problem behaviour (including the teacher) so such behaviour can be exposed and readily dealt with.
My personal favourite is known as pair seating (Ramsden). This seating plan encompasses almost all beneficial aspects previously mentioned; it allows for increased student talking time, decreased teacher talking time, teacher as facilitator and it is very student centred (Marzaro). Additionally, pairing stronger students with weaker students can be beneficial to all students. Conversely, some disadvantages to this arrangement can appear. For instance, students in the back of the class may exhibit more native language speaking and less English speaking (Poulou). Other problem behaviours and undesirable peer interaction may also occur in this seating arrangement. A teacher should be mindful to pay particular attention to the participation of students in the back of the class. Throughout this essay, it has been shown that seating arrangements can affect various facets of experience for the students and the teacher alike. There are various advantages and disadvantages to the variety of learning environments in areas such as learning objectives, desired (or undesired) outcomes as well as sociological factors such as peer interaction. In essence, the teacher should be aware of what implications the varying learning environments presents, and then deal with them accordingly. Works Cited
Emmer, Edmund T. 'Classroom management: A Critical Part of Educational Psychology, With implication for Teacher Education' Educational Psychologist 2001, Vol. 36 No. 2, Pages 103-112.
Good, Thomas L. 'Educational Psychology Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Debate and Direction in an Evolving Field' Educational Psychologist 2001, Vol. 36 No. 2, Pages 69-72.
Holtrop, S. 'Writing Lesson Plans: Seating Arrangements' May 1997. 11, June 2006
Marzaro, Robert J. 'The Key to Classroom Management' pub. date unknown. 11 June 2006.