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How to Choose the Right Classroom Desk Arrangement for You

It's that time of year again. It's time for you to spend countless hours in a mostly empty school building setting up your classroom while you steam your favorite music on Spotify. If you're lucky, you will be teaching in the same room as last year. If you're unlucky, your school will have chosen to repair every wall in your classroom while simultaneously spraying construction dust all over your stuff. Sigh. After you've cleaned up all the construction dust, you will probably start to think about desk arrangement. Then you will look at the desks and realize that, before you attempt any arranging you better get to cleaning the pencil scribbles and glue stick residue off of them. Once you spend hours scrubbing desks it's back to the arranging again. The way you arrange your desks can effect your teaching style as well as your classroom procedures. There are many ways to organize student desks in a classroom but, most arrangements are variations on two main formations: rows and table groups. Rows and table groups each have their own advantages. I have found that the teaching style of the teacher often lends itself to one arrangement or the other. I most often choose to arrange student desks into table groups. I found that having my students sitting in table groups allowed me to more easily walk around the room while giving instruction. I also frequently would ask my students to have discussions at their table groups during my lessons. Table Groups May be Right For You If:

  • You use social learning strategies

  • You like to have your students work in small groups frequently

  • You like to use centers

  • You encourage students to confer during independent work times

  • You want to provide ELLs and students with other special needs opportunities for structured conversations with their peers.

Rows May Be Right For You If:

  • You need to fit a lot of students into a small space

  • You have many students who have trouble focusing

  • You spend a lot of class time teaching from the board

  • You frequently do not want students to confer during independent work

How do you arrange the desks in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below.

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