In preparing for a new school year, one of the first thing teachers think about is how they are going to arrange the students’ desks. Depending on the arrangement, the teacher’s life can be made much easier or more difficult.
You can tell a lot about a teacher just by walking into their room. Here is what your room says about you.
Neat, orderly rows
This setup is the classic, started during the days of the one-room schoolhouse. Cutting edge education theorists say this arrangement doesn’t reflect 21st century needs. The truth is that there will always be certain classes that need rigorous structure. That being said, ask yourself what you can do to be more creative in your practice to offset the rigid rows.
Collaboration is huge right now, and the teacher who is using this setup knows it. The problem is two-fold: if you assign seating, students will hate who they are sitting with and if you don’t, you run the risk of chaos. Not to mention the kids who just want to be left alone; they’re the unhappiest of all. See what you can do to inject some flexibility into this arrangement, especially in the assignments.
These are the cautionary tales that the principal brings all the new teachers to as a demonstration of what not to do. It’s probably representative of you, your curriculum, and how your students work best. They probably hate leaving this kind of room. If it’s working, don’t ever change it. But if it’s not, it will be the first thing your administrator points to during your evaluation.
We’ve found a winner. Today’s mix of collaboration, multiple modalities, and blended learning requires flexibility in the classroom. There should never be a rigid setup. It might change three times during a lesson.
What does this say about a teacher? You have abundant creativity and awesome classroom management. This mindset doesn’t even require special furniture (but it helps). As long as things can be moved around to get the space you need at the moment, you’ll be fine.
There really is no wrong answer here, as long as you and the students are comfortable. What doesn’t work is inconsistency. If you keep changing seating charts in an effort to bring more order to the room, the students will see that you’re easily swayed. Pick an arrangement (or lack of one) and make it work. What is your go-to desk arrangement?