Seating Arrangements in the Classroom Seating arrangements are much more
Seating arrangements are much more complex than students imagine. A proper and suitable seating arrangement can help a class thrive, but a poorly designed or chosen arrangement may result in classroom disorder. Seating arrangements are the key to classroom management and organization. Not only do they determine how well the teacher maintains control, but they also balance class dynamics. Teachers therefore must take several factors into consideration before settling on a seat arrangement, such as. how the teacher-student relationships will vary, how the arrangement will affect the classroom atmosphere, which arrangements allow the teacher to maintain control over the classroom, how it will affect the teacher's role, how well the students can still communicate, how it works with the size of the group, and how it works with different activities (ITTT, 7). Additionally, the learning environment should be designed according to learning objectives and desired outcomes, and what the teacher wants the lesson to accomplish (Huntington College). The teacher also needs to take into consideration the his or her mobility throughout the room, the type of work that will typically be done in the class, whether it is group work, whole class or pair work, whether the teacher can establish collective and individual contact with all students, and the visibility of all the students to the teacher and the board and vice versa.
There are several different seating arrangements that help the teacher best facilitate the type of classroom setting that would meet his or her classroom management goals. The three most popular arrangements are orderly rows, circles and horseshoes, and small groupings of desks.
In orderly rows, the teacher has a clear view of the students, the students can all see the teacher, and the teacher can maintain eye contact with everyone. This set-up is best for lecturing and other whole class activities such as testing (ITTT, 8). It is also an efficient use of space for packing in desks, and it gives everyone easy access to seats and facilitates good teacher mobility (Huntington College). This arrangement allows the teacher to monitor the students' work and encourages the student to keep on task throughout the activity (Education World). Though this has always been the traditional way, it also has its downfalls, such as mostly one-way communication, and sometimes the teacher can not always see the students in the back (NW link).
Other options for seating arrangements include circles and horseshoe, in which the teacher's position is less dominating, there is less of a feeling of separation in the classroom, everyone is more focused on the lesson, all students have eye contact with their class members, and the room is more intimate, (ITTT, 8). This set- up is typically best for pair work, and it is good for encouraging discussions and debates (Huntington). Due to this reason, it is used commonly in high school and college settings where discussion based classrooms are more prominent. The teacher can also nonverbally encourage participation by allowing eye contact between him or her and the learners. This also allows the teacher to move closer to each learner, and this arrangement works well when all learners must be able to see a demonstration (NW link). Circles are the most democratic way to arrange a classroom because everyone is on the same level and it encourages the most participation (NW link).
As for small groups of desks, they are informal, easy for teacher to go from group to group, and are best for small group work on exercises and projects (ITTT, 8). Unfortunately, this set-up is prone to discipline problems, so a teacher has to be careful when using this arrangement when planning which students will sit where.
Seating arrangements, though seen by students as a link to their social life, are actually carefully prepared and well thought-out plans that have a great impact on the overall classroom setting and learning experience. Teachers should take great care to plan their seating arrangements to get the most out of their students and themselves.
Huntington College. 'Writing lesson plans: Seating arrangements.' 1999. 17 Aug. 2006.
ITTT. 'Classroom management- Introduction.' ITTT 005, International TEFL Teacher Training. 2005.
Education World. 'Do Seating Arrangements and Assignments = Classroom Management'' 10 Sept. 2004. 17 Aug. 2006. < http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr330.shtml>
NW link. 'Training Room Design. Seating Arrangements.' 30 Mar. 2001. 17 Aug. 2006. < http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/seating.html>