Things to Keep in Mind for TEFL Classroom Seating
One of the most important elements of an efficiently run class is the seating arrangement in the classroom. There is a lot that is taken into consideration when managing a class, such as a teacher’s voice, hand gestures, and eye contact, which are crucial when teaching TEFL class. Although there are other factors, the seating is one that will really set the environment for the activities that the teacher will introduce to the students throughout the course. There are many distinct possibilities for seating arrangements. These arrangements include ones that can be in smaller groups, larger groups, a class as a whole, or even individual seating arrangements. However, each possible plan for a seating arrangement has its own advantages and disadvantages. Taking a look at this particular element from all angles will help to determine which are the most suitable for seating arrangements for a TEFL class.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Zahra Al. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The Principles of Organizing Seating Arrangement
First off, each seating arrangement should be laid out to be looked into and examined thoroughly. The first one is the arrangement of each individual desk. This would just be each desk separated and lined up in rows without touching any other desk. There are many advantages to this form of the seating arrangement, including the fact that this seating arrangement allows for the teacher to give individual help to each student according to what that particular student may need guidance in, while also allowing the other students to continue working on their tasks without losing focus. Another benefit of using this seating type is that it is very efficient during testing or examination. Groupwork is still possible with this seating arrangement, but could potentially cause discipline problems when they are detaching their communication from the rest of the class. Some of the main disadvantages of this arrangement are that it allows for minimal eye contact with each student since they will be spread out with gaps, and the fact that this seating is unsuitable for class togetherness. Keeping these benefits and downfalls in mind, one could say that overall it is a fairly suitable set up for a TEFL class.
Traditional Approach to Seating
The next option traditional orderly rows. Rows of desks that are joined by the sides, often followed by more rows behind them. It is quite a popular seating arrangement and has been used by many teachers in the past. One advantage related to this seating would be the usefulness of maintaining eye contact. With the teacher right in front of the class and the class closer together it allows the teacher not to have to look around too much, as they would in the previous arrangement. It gives a clear view of the teacher, as well as for the students to see the teacher and the board. This advantage leads to the fact that when the teacher can easily maintain eye contact it is beneficial in attempting to maintain the discipline in the classroom. The spaces within the lined-up rows still allow for the teacher to move freely and help any students requiring assistance. However, in terms of activities that the teacher may introduce to the students, it could pose potential difficulties in large group tasks. Although the arrangement is perfectly suitable for whole-class activities or pair work, the issue comes in when students need to work in larger groups. For example, if four students are in one group and are seated in a row, they cannot communicate with the person at the other end, meaning they would need to project their voice, causing issues in their ability to complete the task, but also creating too much noise. This seating arrangement seems to be useful for TEFL with larger classes with older students who may not be completing a lot of larger group activities.
Lastly, there is the semi-circular or “horseshoe” seating arrangement. It is basically open at the end where the teacher would give instructions and explain class activities. Students would have their seats spread in a horseshoe shape around the classroom. There are several benefits to this particular type of seating arrangement. First off, it is very useful when having a class discussion or an activity involving class as a whole. This arrangement allows everyone in the room to be able to see everyone else. The teacher can see all the students, the students can see the teacher and the students can see other students as well. This means that the teacher’s position in this arrangement is actually less dominating than in the other seating arrangements. It is a position that is placing everyone neutrally. This also means that since everyone in the room ends up at the same level, it makes it easier for each one of the students to stay focused since there is no back or front of the class. It is also useful for pair work and the group work issue from the previous seating arrangement is minimalized here. This is because there are no rows in front of the desks or behind, so students could potentially do any possible group work. It also allows for a clear view of the board, although for a few students at the ends of the horseshoe the view may be slightly blocked. Overall, this arrangement seems highly suitable for TEFL classrooms and is very useful in making the classroom work efficiently.
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There are many more possibilities for seating arrangements for a TEFL class. However, these are just some of the examples to gain an understanding of the types of arrangements that would work best for which class. They also give clarity when considering activities that may take place within the classroom. In the end, the best seating arrangement for a particular class really depends on the number of students, the age of the students, the classroom size, and the activities that a teacher will introduce. These are some seating ideas to keep in mind since they favor important factors such as teacher’s position, view of the board, and student interaction.
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