Seating arrangements in the classroom Seating arrangement is a fundamental

Seating arrangement is a fundamental component of classroom management. For a seating arrangement to be effective, the classroom must be organized based on what the teacher wishes to accomplish in the lesson. Increased 'on task' behavior is observed when the teacher chooses the appropriate seating arrangement for the lesson (1,2). Three common arrangements, orderly rows, clusters and the semi-circle will be examined in this paper. The positive and negative attributes of each arrangement will briefly be addressed. One seating arrangement will not be determined as superior because the best arrangement is determined by class dynamics and the lesson plan (3).


All desks are aligned single file, one desk in front of the other. This type of arrangement is very traditional and is an excellent way to structure a large class (2,3). With all of the desks aligned, the teacher is able to see all of the students and the students have a clear view of the teacher and instructional aids. This arrangement is ideal for study phase and individual evaluation because the teacher can monitor the entire class and easily reach a student for one-to-one discussion without disturbing another student (2,3). While this arrangement is very effective for instructional and disciplinary control it minimizes student to student interaction (2,3). Group work is not appropriate with this seating arrangement. The teacher must consider the goals of the lesson and the activities before organizing the class into rows.


Desks are touching and face the front of the room in a half- circle shape. In this arrangement, the students can easily see the teacher and teaching aids. The students also have a clear view of each other which makes this seating arrangement less teacher focused and ideal for classroom debates and discussions(2). The students are very close which also makes this seating arrangement great for pair work. The horseshoe shape seating arrangement is not possible in a very large class because it requires too much space to organize effectively (2). This type of seating arrangement also makes one-on- one discussions and test situations difficult because students are so close together (2). In this arrangement it is difficult to ensure information is not passed between students at inappropriate times. Groups:

Desks are organized in small clusters scattered throughout the classroom. This seating arrangement is ideal for group activities. The teacher can organize students so that each group is consists of both strong and weaker students. This will allow stronger students to assist their peers (2). In this seating situation the teacher can easily reach each group for questions and prompting. The teacher is only able to reach one group at a time and for this reason it may be difficult to maintain control and ensure that students are engaged in 'on-task' discussion (2). In this seating arrangement, it will not be possible for each student to have a clear view of the teacher or instructional aids at all times. For this reason clusters make giving instruction very difficult (2,3). Ideally each student would have all the information required for the activity before they are split up into groups.

Of the three seating arrangements outlined above, there is not one that is superior to the other. Each arrangement contributes positive and negative properties to the classroom. It is a teacher's responsibility to determine when each seating arrangement should be utilized to provide the greatest benefit for the students. Works Cited

1) Bonus, M., Riordan, L. Increasing Student On-Task Behavior through the Use of Specific Seating Arrangements. Education Recourses Information Center. [cited 2006 Nov 19]. Available from:' _nfpb=true&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED422 129&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=eric_accno&objectId=0900000b80093518

2) Ramsden, A. Seating Arrangements. University of Deleware. [cited 2006 Nov 19]. Available from: 20Arrangements.htm

3) International TEFL Teacher Training. Unit 5: Classroom management. Page