What’s the best seating arrangement for your class?

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You get your new classroom key. You walk excitedly to your new room and unlock the door. Inside you see a stack of chairs and tables in the corner. So where to begin?

First things first.

You need to get your tables in an arrangement that will facilitate learning by allowing your students to see you and the board.

TEACHER DESK

The placement of your teacher desk is important and is the first place to start. You need to be able to see the whole classroom and have access storage.

Some things to consider are:

Line of sight. Are you going to have a good view of the room while sitting at the desk?

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Are you going to teach from the desk? If you have a laptop that can only be plugged in at the desk, then you may have to use this a your base but may want to invest in an iPad you can mirror your devise to so you’re free to roam the room.

Where will you store your papers that need marking and teaching materials?

Once your teacher desk is set up you can then get a clear idea of how to set up the student’s desks .

STUDENT DESKS

Things to consider:

How do you prefer students to work?

- In groups.
- in pairs.
- independently
- combination of all three

Your decision making will depend on how well behaved your students are, which you won’t know until you get to know them. You may wish to start off in groups and then move to independent learning later. Don’t be afraid to mix it up each month but try not o change the arrangement too often as this can cause students stress.

Here are my favourite arrangements for the best teaching activities.

HORSESHOE

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As the name suggests, you arrange desks in a u shape pattern facing the board.
Good for: independent work or pair work and everybody can see the board
Bad for: group work and those kids who love to talk to their neighbour

GROUP TABLES (6 to a group)

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Small groups with no more than 6 students. Remember the number of students is important because you may want to switch it up to do pair work. Anything bigger and you’ll find they get too noisy. Anything smaller and they tend to split into pairs and don’t have a team feel.
Good for: group works, team building, pair work within groups and behaviour management and post scoring.
Bad for: chatting and overly competitiveness between groups (be strategic with who you place in each group and move those talkers around to stop the group being penalised too much). Also some students may not see the board as easily as others.

ROWS
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Old fashioned yes but sometimes necessary for a class with behaviour problems. All students face the front and everybody can see the board.
Good for: teachers - you can see everybody all the time and can nip those behaviour problems in the bud right away. Also good for keeping those struggling students near the front so you can help them out easily. Pair work is easy in this set up if you keep the numbers in each row even.
Bad for: group work (you can turn rows into groups for activities away from desks but collaboration is near impossible in this arrangement). Students at the back may end up your high achievers who need less one-to-one support but they may also stress about being so far back they can’t see the board enough.

COMBINATION SET UP

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This is a mix of the all of the previously mentioned set-ups and sometimes is the best arrangement when you need to cater for different abilities. Placing higher students near the back, students that need that one-to-one near the front. Groups and pair work possibilities or just the configuration of you classroom furniture will force you to select a combination plan. 

You can find these plans plus many more ideas in the Classroom Seating Chart pack where you can also find some printables to create your own seating plan.



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