Few factors affect your classroom environment more than the students’ desk arrangement. Deciding on a seating chart for the new school year can feel a lot like guesswork when you have yet to meet your students. Your best option is to set up a classroom seating arrangement that will foster the type of learning environment you want for your students. The book Organized Teacher, Happy Classroom by Melanie S. Unger offers teachers of any experience level lots of great step-by-step advice for creating an organized classroom that promotes top performance in students. Here are four desk arrangement ideas from the book:
Classroom Organization idea 1: Desks in Pods
The ideal pod size is 4 or 6 desks. This desk arrangement promotes cooperative learning and a sense of community within the classroom and creates good traffic flow throughout the classroom because of the extra space between pods. However, if you have a particularly talkative class, this set up may actually be more distracting to the students and prevent them from focusing on instruction.
Classroom Organization idea 2: Rounded Rows
This classroom seating arrangement preserves the idea of a row format but adds a slight twist. Instead of rigid, straight rows, the rows curve in a bit (almost in a rainbo
w shape), which can allow more conversation among the students while giving the teacher a clear view of each desk from the front of the room.
The modified row arrangement can seem a bit scattered. In this seating chart, most desks are in row format, but with branches coming off the rows. The benefit is students can face the front of the room, but still talk in groups of two or three.
Desks in modified rows
Classroom Organization idea 4: U-Shaped Arrangement
A U-shaped desk arrangement creates a classroom environment that is open to student discussion. This setup encourages the entire class to participate in class lessons,
debates, or collaboration.
The bottom line for desk arrangements is to find a classroom organizational set up that you like and that promotes the type of student behaviors you want in your classroom. Change things up from time to time throughout the year to get a feel for what works best. It may take a few tries to find the right one, even for seasoned teachers. Experiment each year. What worked with one group of students may not work with another group.