- Improve Behaviour management,
- Improve the teaching and learning in the classroom.
- Motivate students
Before we get to where we want students to sit and why, we need to have a look at the seating Layout in the classroom.
It's your choice how you want to layout your classroom and each layout has advantages and disadvantages. Some classrooms have more choice than others and often as teacher we just have to work with what we have.Various research has shown that the most common layouts are:
Single lines of desks
Advantages of this layout:
Encourages individual work
Great for presentations and teacher led lessons
Disadvantages:Not very good for group work uneven levels of interaction, front rows will interact more and students in the back can easily lose focus.
U-shape or horse shoeAdvantages:
Great for interacting with entire class
Good for presentations and demonstrations
Not very good for small group work
Can be difficult to control behaviour
Must have good control over class when engaging in discussion
Clusters of desks:
Great for small group activities
Gives students a small safe environment to work in
Promotes team work
Flexibility to move student groups around
There are many other formations of desks that we use in the classroom but what we need to remember is that the lesson should where possible design what layout is best to use. Rearranging desks can often help get better control of the class but also help create a productive learning environment.
There is various pieces of research that shows altering seating arrangements can have a positive effect on behaviour and student learning including (Dune 2001), Bonus and Riordan (19198) and (Weinstein and Evertson 2006).
Having a seating plan not only ensures there is no discussion as to where students sit but it also a good tool to help remember student names quickly, rather than the students changing seats every lesson and sitting where they want. It also helps the students learn and focus on the lesson rather than creating conversations with friends. We can also have an impact on the less popular students to ensure they are included in group work.
Research has also shown using more able to sit next to lower ability has been shown to have a positive impact on the lower ability student and has had no diverse effects on the more able. They often act as mentors to the less able and help move them forward much quicker than they would have if for example; they were sitting next to a student who was of equal ability to them.
The students who get more eye contact from you are the students who are front and centre; therefore it is best to put a student who you want to keep an eye on here. The edges are the best place to put disruptive students as then they have fewer students to disrupt and fewer students will actually see the disruptive behaviour as they will not focus on them as much as they would if they were seated in the middle of the classroom.
At the start of the school year when we have new classes we often do not know who is friends with who or who is the most disruptive. The best way to find this out is often to let them sit where they want for the first few lessons and makes notes of the issues and then you could use these notes to plan your seating for the rest of the term. Using prior data and SEN information with these notes from observing can give you a head start to controlling the behaviour and ensuring you have a productive learning environment.
The type of lesson we are teaching will no doubt also affect your seating plan and changing the seating plan every term will also keep the students alert and ensure they don't fall into bad habits.
A lot of thought goes into seating plans we create! Some things we need to remember:
- Always stick to the plan - don't start letting them choose where to sit
- Separate behaviour issues - don't have them all together, separate corners is often good
- Disruptive students are best next to the teacher
- Change the seating plans for different styles of lessons - group work, presentations, etc.
- Update your seating plan regularly.
Many staff including myself have often struggled with planning seating arrangements in the past and where to start with seating plans; I would love to hear your ideas or trusted approaches you have used.
Ideas and comments always welcome!