Seating Arrangement in the Classroom to Enhance English Learning
There are many distinct elements that influence what goes on inside a classroom. From the actions of the teacher and the students to the material used, the structure was chosen for the lesson, one could theoretically come up with a myriad of variables that can, positively or negatively, impact what goes on inside a classroom. Therefore, in order to better “stack the odds” so as to ensure that every lesson goes as smoothly and successfully as possible, it is the teacher's obligation to try and “tweak” these variables in his favor. One of these is the seating arrangement in the classroom.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Martim D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Consider facilities of your classroom
Just like there are no two people alike, there aren't two classrooms alike. Each school will have different levels of facilities, each building will have different layouts, each teacher will have his or her own preferences, and these differences will end up influencing how a classroom is laid out. There are merits to all of the various methods that can be thought of when coming up with a seating arrangement, and also flaws. We will, therefore, exemplify some of the most common classroom layouts used around the world, and expose both their virtues and flaws and how they might help determine the flow of a lesson. One should, however, keep in mind that these are just some of the possible seating arrangements. Others might be possible, and better, depending on the situation and the available resources (such as classroom space and available seating).
Traditional seating arrangement
The most commonly seen seating arrangement in classrooms around the world is characterized by having seats arranged in orderly rows, with the teacher and the board located in front of the students. As this is the most commonly seen seating arrangement in classrooms, it is also the one most familiar to most students. Most will have had at the very least some contact with such an arrangement in previous learning experiences. The advantages of such a system are as follows: it allows for both teacher and students to have, at all times, a clear view of each other; it makes lecturing easy for the teacher; it allows the teacher to easily reach every student, thus letting him give personal attention to each individual. Activities that require the participation of all students thrive in this particular seating arrangement, and in case the class has a fairly large number of students, it is almost always the most effective (and sometimes possible) classroom arrangement.
Seating arrangement for smaller classroom
Smaller classrooms may benefit from different seating arrangements. Two commonly used in these situations are circular and horseshoe-shaped arrangements, where the students will be, as the names imply, arranged in either the shape of a circle or a horseshoe, with the teacher situating himself at the open end of the classroom. Both of these lack the rigidity of the previously mentioned orderly rows arrangement, thus allowing for a more relaxed and intimate teaching environment. The teacher's position in relation to his students will be not one of dominance, but equality, which allows for a more deep relationship between the two parties. These more intimate arrangements also allow for students to be able to see each and every other of their colleagues at all times, thus allowing for more sharing of information, and make pair work easier.
Also Read: 3 Key Strategies for Teaching Young Learners
Seating arrangement for groups
Lastly, there is an even more informal way of arranging a classroom than the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. In this particular one, students are seated in small groups, at individual tables. This allows the teacher to walk around, checking each group's work without disrupting other groups. It's also the most beneficial way of arranging a classroom when the class is comprised of students with different levels of skill. There are disadvantages to this seating arrangement though. Students may not feel like sitting with the same people over an entire school year and the teacher may find whole class activities to be harder to control.
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As the previous paragraphs have clearly demonstrated, there are several possible seating arrangements one can theoretically find in a classroom. Each of them will serve different purposes, each will have distinct advantages and disadvantages. It is the teacher's prerogative (if the school administration allows) and duty to choose which seating arrangement best suits his class's needs, thus ensuring that this particular variable will contribute to a great teaching experience for all those involved.
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