How are your classroom desks arranged? More importantly, why have you arranged them that way?
If YOU wanted to learn something, would you go sit in a small desk behind someone else? How about directly in front of a few colleagues? Of course not!
“But my options are limited!” you exclaim. “We have a square room with square desks, and way too many students most of the time. What am I supposed to do?!”
It’s definitely a challenge, but we’d bet there are options you haven’t yet considered. How could you make your room more comfortable, collaborative, and conducive to learning?
Need some ideas? Sure!
How about something more like a theatre – curved lines of seats with NO desks? This is where you’d lecture or do short presentations. Or set it like a library – some independent spots, and some larger tables for group-work. How about a circle of seats with no desks? Or a U-shape of desks? Or a carpet on the floor? Or cushions? Try bringing in a couch, or a few bean-bag chairs – your students will love it.
Maybe you change it day-by-day? Or from moment to moment? Maybe you could invest in some tennis ball feet to make the desks more moveable without the horrific floor-scraping sounds. If you have a huge room that offers lots of options simultaneously, that’s great, but I’d bet your students could learn to reset the room in under a minute. Most students will be happy to have something physical to do!
Lessons, collaborative work time, independent reading, tests, special guests, big group discussions… each function deserves its own ideal setup. Invest the 2 minutes, and I guarantee you’ll see improved productivity and engagement.
If you’re still stuck for ideas, perhaps the best place to start is with your students. Go ahead! Ask your students if they like sitting in rows; ask them how THEY would design the ideal classroom setup! But only ask if you’re willing to listen.