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How to Arrange and Assign Classroom Seating

Janelle Cox

 

One of the very first tasks all teachers have is to decide whether you want seating arrangements or seating assessments. The goal is for students to be positioned in a way to successfully accomplish the task of what you want them to achieve. Here are a few tips taken from the successful Harry K. Wong's book "The First Days of School." 

Seating Arrangements

When determining your seating arrangements, you must first decide what you want the students to accomplish. According to Wong, you must ask yourself the following three questions.

1.     What do I want to do?

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  • Read a story, small group activities, show a video, have students work independently, teach a whole group lesson, teach rules and expectations, taking a test, etc. 

2.     What are some possible seating arrangements that work in my classroom?

  • Desks in circle - discussion or demonstration.
  • Desks grouped in fours - group activity.
  • Desks lined up in rows - video or lecture.

3.     Which seating arrangement will I use in my room?

  • There is no single seating arrangement that works for the entire year. The seating will change when your task changes.

Once you decide upon the task you want the students to accomplish then you must arrange the desks appropriately. If you're looking for an arrangement that will take you through a typical day, classroom management experts recommend the broken-line method; pushing a few desks together angled towards the front of the room. This arrangement will work for many methods, group activities, class presentations, as well as behavior management, because you can seat students in specific seats close or away.

Seating Arrangement Ideas

Here are a few desk arrangement ideas and what they are best used for.

2 Large Groups of Desks - Students can work together in groups.

Broken Line - Two straight lines of desks that are broken in the middle; great for presentations and group work.

Long L Shape - Desks are positioned in a long "L" shape; group work, behaviors can be split up.

Staggered - Groups of two desks staggered in the room, each row is differentiating from two, three, and then four desks in each. This method works great for small groups work and desks can easily be pushed apart for individual work.

Quads - Four desks in a square facing each other; great for group work.

Seating Assignments

Many classroom teachers feel that it is their job to assign students to their seat because it shows the student who is in charge. According to Harry K. Wong, teachers will have a more effective classroom if they assign students to their seats on the first day of school. Wong's reason for this is that it facilitates roll-taking, it aids in name memorization, and separates potential problem students. There will be times when it is not important to assign seats, like when students are at an assembly or during story time. Other than that, it is recommended that teachers take charge and assign seating arrangements.

How do you arrange and assign seating in your classroom? Do you have a certain way that works best? Please share with us in the comment section below! We would love to hear your thoughts!

Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe.