Skip to main content

Classroom seating arrangements

Through my teaching career I experimented with a number of desk arrangements: rows, cabaret style, horseshoes and double horseshoes. In later years I regularly used rows for large groups and a single horseshoe for groups below about 12 students (most A-level classes).

I think my temptation to used grouped tables, cabaret style, was a vague feeling that it was less formal and that it suited pair and small group work. On reflection I believe it was a bad idea.

What does research say?

This piece of research seems to confirm what common sense suggests.

http://www.corelearn.com/files/Archer/Seating_Arrangements.pdf

I have seen this confirmed in other studies. Let me quote from the abstract:

"Seating arrangements are important classroom setting events because they have the potential to help prevent problem behaviours that decrease student attention and diminish available instructional time.... Eight studies that investigated at least two of three common arrangements (i.e., rows, groups or semi-circles) were considered. Results indicate that teachers should let the nature of the task dictate seating arrangements. Evidence supports the idea that students display higher levels of appropriate behaviour during individual tasks when they are seated in rows, with disruptive students benefiting the most."

It seems to me therefore that when seating students you would be wise not to follow any fashion or vague notion that cabaret style is more modern, less formal or discourages communication. Better, in my view, to prioritise behaviour and the reality that much lesson time is spent with the focus on the teacher with eye contact being hugely important. Having students watch your every facial expression is important is establishing successful relationships.

Tables and students can easily move in any case, so if you need space for walking about or acting, then just pile up tables. If it's pair or group work you want to do, then students can quickly turn around.

My methodology was largely teacher-led but with copious pair work so rows made total sense.

How do you arrange your classroom?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

  1. What are your opinions on letting children choose their seating arrangements for lessons (core or non-core) John Spencer (2015) let his class choose their seats for every lesson he taught them. He worried it would make them more social but children will try anything to chat to their friends regardless. He said "I didn’t have to fight those battles anymore" Opinions on this style of teaching?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am open-monded about that. I think the teacher should exercise their professional akill in seating children. If you have to fight battles I wonder if something is amiss in the first place. As for myself, I let children sit where they wanted within the framework of a boy-girl seating pattern with 11-13 year olds (our department policy). I would then move any children if any behaviour issues arose. I didn't let pupils move around once the pattern was established.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The seating arrangement in a class is a very important factor to children's learning, Hastings and Chantrey Wood (2002) discuss various research studies which say that "children's attention to their work increases when they are seated in pairs or in arrangements where no one is seated opposite them" therefore, the idea of rows or a horseshoe would be an ideal seating arrangement for children receive the most effective learning environment. However, for group and collaborative work children are best sat in groups and it may be ideal to move the tables when the lesson focuses on individual or paired learning.

    Hastings, N. and Chantrey Wood, K. (2002) Reorganising Primary Classroom Learning. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting. My reading on this suggests the research evidence is not that strong overall, but corresponds with common sense. Your quoted material goes along with my findings. An obvious point is that tables can be quickly moved so forward-facing tables do not necessarily stop you doing pair and group work.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


English 

_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Preparing for GCSE speaking: building a repertoire

As your Y11 classes start their final year of GCSE, one potential danger of moving from Controlled Assessment to terminal assessment of speaking is to believe that in this new regime there will be little place for the rote learning or memorisation of language. While it is true that the amount of learning by heart is likely to go down and that greater use of unrehearsed (spontaneous) should be encouraged, there are undoubtedly some good techniques to help your pupils perform well on the day.

I clearly recall, when I marked speaking tests for AQA 15-20 years ago, that schools whose candidates performed the best were often those who had prepared their students with ready-made short paragraphs of language. Candidates who didn't sound particularly like "natural linguists" (e.g. displaying poor accents) nevertheless got high marks. As far as an examiner is concerned is doesn't matter if every single candidate says that last weekend they went to the cinema, saw a James Bond…

Worried about the new GCSEs?

Twitter and MFL Facebook groups are replete with posts expressing concerns about the new GCSEs and, in particular, the difficulty of the exam, grades and tiers. I can only comment from a distance since I am no longer in the classroom, but I have been through a number of sea changes in assessment over the years so may have something useful to say.

Firstly, as far as general difficulty of papers is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that the new assessment is harder (not necessarily in terms of grades though). This is particularly evident in the writing tasks and speaking test. Although it will still be possible to work in some memorised material in these parts of the exam, there is no doubt that weaker candidates will have more problems coping with the greater requirement for unrehearsed language. Past experience working with average to very able students tells me some, even those with reasonable attainment, will flounder on the written questions in the heat of the moment. Others will…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for frenchteacher.net three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from pixabay.com to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:





Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…