Teach English in SAnhe Nongchang - Huai'an Shi

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Teachers have a wide variety of considerations to take into account when planning and executing a course. One detail that may be overlooked but has an important impact on the effectiveness of learning and on the overall atmosphere of the class is the seating arrangement. When choosing a seating arrangement one must consider several variables. Firstly, the size and shape of the classroom, and secondly, the type(s) of furniture available for use. One must also be cognizant of the size of the class and the age of the students. The most common seating arrangements are traditional rows and columns of individual desks, horseshoe/U-shape of desks, and pair or group tables. Each of these options comes with advantages and disadvantages. The traditional rows and columns arrangement that many of us of a certain age remember from elementary school is very good for “sit and listen” teaching, for lecturing, or “teacher talk time.” The students can easily see the teacher and likewise the teacher can easily see the students, facilitating classroom control and discipline. This arrangement allows the teacher to move with ease around the classroom, and attention is generally focused on the teacher. While this can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage. Rows and columns do not necessarily encourage student participation or dialogue between students. It makes group work difficult, and does not encourage student talk time. When learning a new language, student talk time and group work are essential, so this may not be the best option. Students in the back of the class are also more likely to become disengaged, since the teacher and board are farthest from them. The horseshoe or U-shape is another popular seating arrangement. It allows for a more friendly and open classroom atmosphere, and creates a sense of equality among students since there isn’t a defined front or back of the group. Students are more likely to stay engaged and focused. The teacher’s position is less dominant, and it allows for easier communication between students for pair work. All students will still have a clear view of the front of the classroom, which allows for focus to be at the front of the classroom during lectures, board work, multimedia presentations or visual displays. U-shaped arrangements are therefore ideal for both whole classroom lessons and pair work. One disadvantage of the U-shape is that it may not be an option for larger classes. However, a double U-shape (a larger U-shape of desks surrounding a smaller U-shape of desks, both open to the front of the class) is another possibility that would accommodate more students, and would also facilitate group work. Another minor disadvantage of a U-shaped seating arrangement is that it somewhat limits a teacher’s ability to move around the class. The last category of seating arrangements involves pairs or groups sitting at tables in clusters or “pods.” Like the U-shape configuration, group tables also promote a sense of equality in the classroom. While this arrangement is ideal for group work, cooperative learning, and encouraging student talk time, it can also lead to distraction and side-talking. At group tables it may also be difficult to ensure that all students are facing the front of the classroom. This would not be an issue with smaller pair tables, if both students sit on the same side of the table facing the front of the classroom. Group tables create small communities within the class, which may feel like a safer environment for students to participate, rather than speaking in front of the entire class. Based on this information, either the U-shape or cluster configurations seem preferable to the traditional rows-and-columns seating arrangement for language learning. They allow for a friendlier and more cooperative atmosphere, and better accommodate pair and group work, which maximize student talk time. Sources “The Pros and Cons of 3 Common Classroom Seating Arrangements.” Teach For America, 28 Jan. 2016. Web 4 Feb. 2020. Earp, Jo. “Classroom Layout - What Does the Research Say?” Teacher Magazine, 16 Mar. 2017. Web. 4 Feb. 2020. Fernandes, A. C., Huang, J., & Rinaldo, V. (2011). Does where a student sits really matter? The impact of seating locations on student classroom learning. International Journal of Applied Educational Studies, 10(1), 66-77 “Classroom Layouts - Seating Arrangements for Effective Learning.” Today’s Clasroom. 20 May 2014. Web 4 Feb. 2020.