Maybe you want to mix things up in the new school year, or you’ve noticed that your current classroom seating arrangements are becoming stale and the students are getting restless.
Regardless of how your classroom’s looking at the moment, it’s safe to say that rearranging the set-up in your classroom is a lot harder than it looks, and there is a lot to consider.
For example, should you arrange students into pod seating, or would grid seating be better? Or you may have heard other teachers raving about flexible seating, and are considering taking the plunge.
Classroom seating arrangements definitely affect your students’ learning, and even if you decide on an arrangement, a new student could join your class and you have to go back to the blueprint.
Although it is a lot to consider there is no need to panic, as we have 15 classroom seating arrangements that teachers love – and we’re sure you will too!
We’ll also take a look at what preferential seating arrangements are when it comes to students with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans), so everybody in your class can thrive.
Without further ado, let’s get into the list!
Why Is Seating Arrangement Important?
Every teacher has pondered this question, and the possible outcomes of switching around the classroom seating plan.
We’re sure you know that classroom seating arrangements are about a lot more than just choosing a style that looks good or even choosing a plan that conforms to the size of your classroom and how many students you have.
However, studies have found that where a child sits in class can impact their motivation to participate in class, as well as their relationships with their classmates, and even you as their teacher.
Seating arrangements can also have an effect on how you teach your students too. For example, stadium-style seating may result in you lecturing your students rather than involving them in the learning.
In some cases this might be preferential, but not all teachers like this style of teaching.
Meanwhile, a roundtable arrangement will have the opposite effect, and is more likely to get your students involved and create a student-led teaching environment.
1. Simple Rows/Pairs
The tried and true seating arrangement of rows never goes out of style, and is particularly useful if you do a lot of work on the board. However, this layout isn’t the best for collaborative learning or small group learning.
But if you have enough space in your classroom, you can set up a range of other areas for group working, and then reserve the pairs seating arrangement for solo work.
In this setup, all students face the board. This arrangement is also pre-made for test conditions.
Plus, when the desks are in rows, it is a lot easier for you to see who is doing well, and who needs some more assistance.
But if you have a large group of students, then this could mean some students will be too far away from the front of the class and the whiteboard.
2. Flexible Seating
Of course, flexible seating isn’t a new thing, and is very divisive among teachers. Again, it all depends on your students and what works best for them.
Advocates of flexible seating say that this type of seating arrangement is more suited to the constantly evolving and ultra-connected world we live in.
Plus, it inherently requires students to learn skills like collaboration, creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving.
This type of seating arrangement turns your classroom upside down – in a good way!
If you’re considering implementing a flexible seating arrangement in your classroom, we would recommend a trial period to see if this type of layout is going to work.
Set up one new flexible seating arrangement available and see if it’s something your class responds well to and enhance their learning environment.
3. Group Seating
Grouping of students desks in a range of ways is kind of ‘flexible seating lite,’ and is also referred to as seating students in ‘pods.’
This arrangement naturally lends itself really well to a classroom with a collaborative teaching style and does a lot of group work.
Plus, if you are a teacher who finds that the competitive nature of ‘group points’ works well to motivate your students, then this seating arrangement is an excellent option.
4. Stadium Seating
A small twist on row seating, stadium-like seating is an option that may be beneficial for older students, as it’s associated with lecture halls in college.
It’s a seating arrangement that makes it easier for you to see if all students are on track, as all the desks are angled to a single point in the classroom.
The layout also takes up less floor space, which makes it beneficial for smaller classrooms. After all, the more floor space you can get, the better!
This layout isn’t great for a classroom that does a lot of collaborative work and group work, as it can lead to a more teacher-led environment.
5. Double E Classroom Seating
If you have a small classroom and are finding it a challenge, then the Double E-shape may be a life-saver!
This desk layout creates two smaller spaces in the middle of the desks, which would give you some space for small group work too.
This layout also makes it easier for you to move around the classroom and engage with individual students if needed.
This layout also gives you some more flexibility when some students need to face the whiteboard. You can make it so they are facing the front of the classroom.
6. Large U Seating
This desk arrangement is a popular layout, and is beneficial for whole-class discussions and lets students easily view their classmates and discuss topics with them.
This layout has a lot in common with the U-shapes we’ll discuss later, and makes each desk easier for you to access.
While this arrangement isn’t really suited for smaller group work, it still allows students to work in pairs with the person next to them.
7. Mini U Seating
A common layout in classrooms these days, the mini-U seating arrangements lets you manage small groups easily without cramming students into the classroom and giving everybody some personal space.
This layout is also beneficial for teachers, as it helps you easily go around the classroom and check work.
You may even want to place your chair in the center of one of the ‘U’ shapes to have small discussions with each group when necessary.
8. Grid Seating
This desk layout is particularly useful when carrying out a test or when you want them to work individually. This ensures students can’t discuss the test with each other, or spy on someone else’s paper.
However, we would caution against this being the default setup for your classroom, as it can demotivate students if there is no opportunity at all for group work and discussion.
9. Conference Seating For A Small Classroom
If you’re teaching a small group of students, then conference seating may be a good idea.
The ‘conference classroom’ set-up gives your students an ‘equal voice’ and has the vibe of a business meeting room.
It’s also a good layout for practicing new languages, as the students face each other and can easily talk to each other. Let them swap places and move on to the next student in line and discuss another subject.
10. Conference Seating For A Large Classroom
If you have a larger classroom, you can still incorporate a conference classroom layout. You can use this arrangement in the way we’ve mentioned above.
However, it’s not the best layout for group work, and students talking to each other across the room can get pretty loud!
11. Herringbone Seating Arrangement
This is an interesting desk layout for your classroom, and has two purposes. It involves putting chairs in rows of two, three, or four but slightly turned so they face the middle of the classroom.
This means your students can give you their full attention, and draws their attention to the front of the classroom, while also making it easier for them to engage in discussions. You can also let your students work together with the ones on their row.
12. Banquet Seating Arrangement
We recommend using this classroom seating layout for two scenarios. It allows students to talk to the person opposite them, which is great for debates, learning another language, and as icebreakers on the first day of class, and it allows you to split your class into two groups.
This seating arrangement is great for working on larger projects and organizing class events.
13. Computer Combo Seating
Any of the desk layouts we’ve mentioned above are suitable for working with portable devices like chromebooks, laptops, or tablets.
But when you’re in a classroom with computers and desks, this is a great layout for you, especially as it gives you a good view of the computers so you can make sure your students are on task.
14. Eye Seating
We recommend using this eye formation when you’re arranging a class discussion or debate.
Choose a group of students and seat them in the center of the eye, and then the rest of the students will act as an audience.
What Is Preferential Seating?
Preferential seating refers to accommodations that have been made to give students with certain needs the ability to see, hear, and take part in classroom activities in the same way as their peers.
For example, a child with a hearing impairment may need to sit closer to the teacher so they are able to hear what’s being said, while a child with ADHD may need to sit away from the classroom door to avoid distractions.
These seating arrangements for students with IEPs aren’t optional either. They are required by law, so it’s important to be aware of them and follow them.
It’s also a good idea to take the needs of students into account without IEPs when arranging your seating.
For example, a child who wears glasses may not have an official plan, but you might realize they really need a seat close to the front of the classroom.
Also, there may be students who shouldn’t be seated next to each other, either because they are likely to distract one another or they don’t work well together.
If you’re entering a whole new classroom, this is something you will learn in time. Don’t be afraid to mix things up when it comes to seating!
Every classroom is unique. The most important thing is that students feel confident and have faith in the classroom environment.
Make sure you move the desks around occasionally so students don’t get bored and you can optimize the classroom environment for your lesson plans.
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