7.3 Seating Arrangement of Classroom

Seating arrangements are a main part in a teaching plan for classroom management. Not only do the teachers need to consider the physical arrangement of the room but the nature of the students involved. The also the considerations in arranging the physical environment of the room is so that teaching and learning can occur as efficiently as possible. The teacher needs to be able to walk around the room without the students having to move their desks. Teachers needs to take into account that students seated in the center or front of the classroom tend to interact more frequently with the teacher and the number of behavioral problems tend to increase as the students sit farther from the teacher. Also, students in the back and corners of the room are more likely to be off task than those close to the front desk. There are many seating arrangements that the teachers can use, six common arrangements are cluster, rows, table rows, semi- circle, pairs and centers or activity zones. The best arrangement depends on the situation of the class and teacher.

1. Clusters

Clusters consist of four or five desks pushed together so every desk is facing another one. The fifth desk, if needed, would be put on the end of the group of four. The classroom would have clusters scattered around, so each cluster would be far enough apart that the students chairs would not hit each other. In this situation the teacher is free to walk around the room without bumping into students desk or chairs and can work with the groups. The groups of students need to be thought about before setting up. The students need to be able to work together. There will have to be different levels of students at each group so that they can help each other learn and grow. Clusters are very common in situations where there is a lot of group learning and work. The desks together make it easy for all students in the cluster to see each other and to discuss. In this situation the philosophy of the teacher is more collaborative learning. This lets the students have hands on activities and learn by practicing. The teacher shares and gives guidance and help to the students. This arrangement also, allows for students to do individual work at their desk.

2. Rows

The students are in a perfect test taking arrangement if the teacher is monitoring the class. In this situation the teaching philosophy is probably more adult-run and direct instruction. The students are all facing the teacher and can see the blackboard, overhead projector, screen and other instructional aids. It is easy for the teacher to monitor all the students.

The problem with this arrangement is some students are going to have to sit in the corners and in the back of the room. In these locations in the classroom students participate and interact less and more behavioral problems occur. This arrangement is also not good for projects. Taking the time to have the students get into group work or groups and move their desks is taking away important instructional time during the school day. Desk rows are very common in the older grades where numerous amounts of tests are given and direct instruction is prevalent.

3. Table Rows

Table rows consist of long tables that are placed in rows that are perpendicular to the front and back of the room. The students sit next and across from each other. This set up is typically found in science labs and writing workshops. It is a good arrangement for group work and large group projects. The philosophy of the teacher who would set up their classroom with table rows is probably collaborative learning. They motivate their students by letting them work together, and it helps students learn how to learn. During writing workshops it is easy for students to turn to a person and do a peer editing and to share their work. In science labs it is sensible to have a large table where everyone can the item and participate..

4. Semi-Circle

The semi-circle seating arrangement would be bad. because the teacher would have a hard time meeting with the students one-on one. This is because the seats are very close to each other. Also, the semi-circle would take up almost the entire classroom so there is not much room for activities or conferencing outside the desk area. Semi- circle desk arrangement can be used in all grade classrooms and for all educational philosophies. This is because the teacher can have classroom discussions and all the students can see and hear each other well. The teacher can take a passive role and listen to the students and let them run the class. Also, in this arrangement the teacher can run the class giving the students step by step instructions. All the students are facing the front of the room and have their own space to work. The students can work easily together without much movement because they are sitting directly next to each other which makes hands on activities and collaborative learning possible.

5. Pairs

Having the students sit in pairs seating arrangement is when the two students desks are together and spaced away from other pairs. This arrangement allows the teacher to walk around the classroom and monitor all the students. Previous the seating arrangement the teacher needs to decide which students can be paired together and not misbehave or lower their academic stamina. The teacher philosophy is probably a mix between adult run and collaborative learning. Pairs allow the students to work together and independently.

6. Activity Zones

At the young age where this seating arrangement is mostly used it is very hard for the students to monitor and help the students. At times the class can get loud and out of hand. It is also hard to answer questions and work one- on-one. The students would have a hard time listening and following directions if they were given at the zones because the seating arrangement is very social.

Activity zones can be changed weekly or daily depending on the class size and time. This seating arrangement allows the students to discover the types of academic skills they learn and know and have fun while learning.

Seating arrangements are very important when thinking about classroom management. The way a class should be arranged clearly depends on the type of students and the philosophies the teacher uses. In my view not one situation is better then another and changing the room around will change the environment. I believe that this is because the best classroom arrangement can change depending on the way students behave in class and to each other. Rows might be very successful for one student while clusters could be for another. All students learn differently and depending on the teaching philosophy and the way the teacher incorporates the seating during the instruction has an influence on the students in different ways. This allows the students to see class with a different perspective, working with other people and seeing information with a different angle. A teacher needs to plan each seating arrangement carefully and look at all personalities and levels of students.

Traditional Classroom

Often is set up with the desks in rows, the teacher’s desk or table somewhere in front of the room, and student desks moved far enough apart to prevent easy wandering of eyes during tests. This arrangement packs desks into the room efficiently and lets student have easy access to their seats, but it certainly does not have to be the default room arrangement. The learning environment should be designed according to objectives and desired outcomes not just habit or a janitor’s best guess. However, this arrangement is probably the best for preventing cheating on traditional testing days. The role of the teacher here seems that of a cop.

Discussions & Debates and many other interactive classroom activities, where the whole class is looking and listening and contributing, probably work better if the students’ seats are somehow facing each other. Some teachers find this arrangement of two sides with an isle down the middle (like Congress) works well. Put the teacher’s desk in the back of the room to get it out of the way. It’s still within easy access to grab a stack of handouts, etc. The role of the teacher here is kind of like Speaker of the House.


A variation on the bicameral (two sides) arrangement is the horseshoe. Remember, though, every arrangement should be made based on what you want the lesson to accomplish. Both the bicameral and horseshoe arrangements work well for handing out stuff. The role of the teacher seems to be coordinator and collaborator New teachers and seasoned professionals both need a plan for setting up and organizing a classroom before the first day of school.

How the teacher organizes the seating arrangement the classroom has an effect on the rest of the school year. of classroom is organized for efficient work habits and access If a 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 teacher’s 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.

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