How My Personal Experience Highlights the Importance of Seating Arrangements in the Classroom
From my own personal learning experiences, as well as what I have learned from my TEFL certification course, I believe that the seating arrangement used in the EFL classroom can have a major effect on learning outcomes.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Daniel B.
“We found we were actually excited about attending the class”
I always remember one teacher in college because her class stood out from all of the others. In her Greek history class, we were forced to place our desks into the form of a circle a vast majority of the time. She warned us from the first day that this would be a class far different from the normal teaching style. She told us that this style would help ensure we stay engaged, listen to others as well as her, and would help to keep us accountable for our previous reading assignments. Every student knew that they were to engage with the class at least once every lesson. Being different from most other class structures, my peers and I looked at each other thinking how weird this strategy sounded. However, after a few classes, our opinions on the matter changed dramatically. We found we were actually excited about attending the class and talked in groups about the Roman history we had read about. We were kept accountable by an almost peer pressure of preparation, at any moment it might be our turn to speak to the class or we might want to interject our thoughts/feelings on the subject being discussed. This was the first experience that instilled a belief inside me that classroom seating can change the learning experience greatly.
“My classmates and I engaged much more than normal for a history class”
This belief was further strengthen by another class I enrolled in the following year. In my history of medicine class, we were given reading assignments every night but instead of the normal classroom seating structure we were forced to sit in audience like rows, with a presenter/class discussion leader at the front, every class meeting. This forced us to engage and listen to the speaker, a different fellow classmate every class. Whether because of guilt of leaving the leader uncomfortable with no one speaking or fear of being the only one not engaged, my classmates and I engaged much more than normal for a history class. This realization would be future strengthened by experiences during law school as well. Whether the class was of an intimate number or a rather large class, the teacher would strategically place us so that we would be forced to engage in debate during every lesson. Although very different from college, this quickly became the norm for me throughout my entire tenure in law school. I realized that I learned so much so fast because the seating arrangements increased my likelihood to read before hand, come to class prepared and be ready to engage the teacher as well as my classmates.
My Future Teaching Career
I would like to instill these concepts as a future teacher so that I can make a genuine, positive impact on my English language students. I will take seating arrangement and classroom setup very seriously as I have seen firsthand the positive effects it can have on the individual’s learning experience. I will use all of the skills I have acquired throughout my career in college, as a lawyer and through my TEFL certification course to ensure I provide a positive learning environment for all my students.
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