How to Plan a Classroom Seating Arrangement

How the teacher organizes the seating arrangement of the classroom has an effect on the rest of the school year. If a classroom is organized for efficient work habits and access for all students, then there will be fewer problems during the academic year. Knowing which seating arrangement will work best in a classroom is sometimes difficult.

There are many ways of arranging the desks in a classroom, and many philosophies about why one arrangement is better than another. The bottom line is this: the best arrangement is the one that fits the teachers style, fits the classroom dimensions, and feels comfortable to the students. Classroom Architect is a visual, user-friendly online tool for exploring different classroom layouts.

Five Common Seating ArrangementsDesks in rows, facing forward. Proponents of this arrangement say that when all the students are facing forward, there is less talking and all students are able to see the whiteboard.Desks in groups. The groups can be in two, four or six, with six usually the high number. When a group is larger than six, it interferes with the group dynamics and students splinter off into smaller informal groups of two or three. If grouping for cooperative work is the goal, then the number of students in the group should equal the number of tasks or jobs for cooperative work.Horsheshoe shape. In this arrangement, two rows of desks are facing each other from opposite sides of the room, and one row faces forward toward the whiteboard. This allows for communication between all members in the class, and is perfect for class sizes of 20 or fewer students.L shape arrangements. Two desks are placed at a right angle to two other desks. This desk configuration creates groups of four students that can work together cooperatively. In a small space, the L shape may be tessellated through the room with no space between the groups. This allows for a wide center aisle in an otherwise crowded room.U shape arrangement. The desks are arranged in a U across the room, allowing all the students to see each other. This is similar to the horseshoe shape and is an excellent choice for classes that have class meetings for social development.Things to Consider in a Classroom Seating Arrangement

When planning a classroom setup, keep these questions in mind.

Will every student be able to see the board and bulletin boards with learning tools?Can the teacher see every student clearly?Is there plenty of room for lining up and exiting the room?Is there sufficient space between desks for backpacks, lunches, and coats? Many classrooms do not have a storage place for these items.Is there sufficient aisle space for wheelchair access or for a student on crutches?Most teachers agree that it is not a good idea to have a seating arrangement where any student has her back to the whiteboard, as sometimes is seen in group arrangements. This makes it difficult for the student to follow along in class, because she must turn away from her desk to see the teacher.

Creating a comfortable learning space is a way to be proactive about preventing and controlling problems between students in the classroom. If students feel crowded, stress levels may rise, and arguments may occur. Plan now for a pleasant, relaxing, and safe classroom seating arrangement.

Two more articles on classroom organization are Three Things to Do to Set Up a Classroom and How to Set Up a Classroom.