It’s a fact—there is no one size fits all solution to classroom seating. Class size, student behavior and the content of a teacher’s lesson plans greatly affect the way a classroom should be set up. Of course, it’s usually up to the teacher to decide how to arrange his or her classroom, and that typically involves some degree of trial and error. To help you decide what configuration is best for your students, check out the benefits and drawbacks of these popular classroom setups.
Stadium Style Seating
Stadium style seating involves angled rows of student desks that touch on the sides. This is one of the most common types of desk arrangement because it faces all students to the front of the room, ensuring everyone has their eyes on the lesson at hand.
Pros: The primary benefit to stadium seating is that the teacher is able to see what every child is doing at all times because everyone is facing the front and is in clear view. Likewise, every child also has a clear view of the teacher, ensuring everyone can see what’s going on. Because students are already next to each other, group work can be done quickly and easily. The advantage of angling the rows rather than leaving them straight is that it’s easier for students to see the front of the room and it also leaves some space at the front of the classroom for a podium or AV cart.
Cons: Although stadium seating works well for smaller class sizes, it may not be ideal for larger classes as the rows would need to be farther away from the front of the room to accommodate more students.
Horseshoe Style Seating
Horseshoe or U-shaped seating is ideal for seating a large number of students without taking up the entire classroom. In a U-shaped configuration, students are seated side-by-side and can be easily separated from their friends if need be. With this arrangement you can utilize more wall space around the desks for other purposes.
Pros: The horseshoe shape enables teachers to fit a large number of desks in a small space, making this an ideal configuration for larger classrooms with more students to accommodate. Students are more separated from each other in this configuration, making partner work easier and preventing students from getting overly distracted by one another.
Cons: The same benefit of spreading students out can also be a negative aspect of this classroom arrangement. Because children are so spread out, it can be difficult for a teacher to address the entire class directly, and it can also make group work a little trickier since desks cannot be moved around the room as easily as they can be with a stadium configuration.
Runway Style Seating
Runway style seating involves two rows of desks facing each other with a good deal of space between them forming a "runway". In this setup, the teacher stands in the runway during lessons and can walk up and down freely while speaking.
Pros: This setup places an emphasis on the teacher by ensuring all eyes are on the lesson at hand. This configuration is best suited for classrooms that hold a lot of lectures and class-wide discussions.
Cons: Due to the amount of space it takes up in the classroom, the runway style configuration is not suitable for large class sizes. This type of grouping can also make group and partner work tricky.
Cluster Style Seating
Clusters or group seating works well if you have a smaller class and utilize a lot of group activities in your lesson plans. This grouping may not work with larger size classrooms because it encourages collaboration which you may find difficult to manage if a lot of students are constantly getting off task.
Pros: This type of configuration can really save on floor space, and it’s great for supporting group activities. After all, everyone is already in groups! It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Cons: Students may be more likely to talk amongst each other in this configuration, so you may find yourself struggling to hold their attention more often. This is a distracting arrangement for many, so it may not be right for every student.
Hybrid Style Seating
Hybrid seating involves a combination of the arrangements listed above.
Pros: Hybrid seating is very flexible and allows teachers to accommodate specific student needs. Remember what we said about there being no one size fits all solution? Well, this arrangement allows teachers to accommodate specific children with specific desk arrangements.
Cons: This style can be tricky to accommodate since it requires special procedures for passing out and collecting papers and supplies.
How do you set up your classroom? Share your favorite configuration ideas in the comments below!