After placing the teacher’s desk, the next step is to decide how you will arrange student desks. There are four main arrangements that you can choose from.

  1. You can set up desks into straight lines. This is the normal way in which student desks are set up. In a typical class, you might have five rows of six students. The benefit of this is that it affords the teacher the ability to walk between the rows. The negative is that it doesn’t really allow for collaborative work. If you are going to have students often work in pairs or teams you will be moving the desks a lot. 
  1. A second way to arrange desks is in a large circle. This has the benefit of providing ample opportunity for interaction but hinders the ability to utilize the board. It can also be challenging when having the students take quizzes and tests in that it is easier for students to cheat.
  2. Another method of classroom arrangement is to have students sit in pairs, with two desks touching each other. The teacher can still walk down the rows helping students, and there is a greater chance for collaboration to occur. The board is still available for use. However, a couple of issues can arise including interpersonal problems and cheating concerns.
  1. The fourth method to arrange student desks is in groups of four. Students face each other, providing them ample opportunity for teamwork and collaboration. However, some students might find they are not facing the board. Further, there can be interpersonal issues and cheating concerns.

Most teachers opt to use rows for their students but have them move into the other arrangements if a specific lesson plan calls for it. Just be aware that this can take time and can be loud for adjoining classrooms. More about seating plans.


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