Rearrange your classroom: 3 tips for teachers at the beginning of the school year

Unless you are the most meticulous of teachers and have contacted previous teachers, former owners, parents, friends, and former librarians, chances are you won’t really meet your students on the first day of class. Sure, there are some stalkers who already have the perfect seating map, but most of us need at least a few days to assess personalities, look at academic skills, and suffer from bad partners. Also, you may find that that box or cabinet you thought was in a prime location is actually more of a nuisance than a help.

After a period of time, even the best teacher will often need to make some adjustments within their classroom. Here are three tips for teachers in the first few weeks of school to make your classroom a better learning environment.

1) Mix up your seating plan

Decide if you want children in rows and columns, at “tables” of 4 or 5 desks, or in some other formation. Should this child be sitting next to (or even a stone’s throw from) that child? Can these two children help each other if they are next to each other? Will these kids get high from smelling Elmer’s glue sticks if they sit next to each other?

Usually some combination of behavior and studies will determine the seating arrangement, especially if you have the children paired up in some way. It’s okay to change the seating plan several times, but don’t do it every day. Give a new combination at least a couple of days to make sure it doesn’t work before changing it back.

2) Moving furniture can free up space

If your teacher’s desk or a nondescript table is taking up space that would be better served otherwise, move it! Maybe it could be behind a shelf or screen above where a student desk couldn’t go.

While it’s usually best to arrange large furniture BEFORE school starts, there’s no law that says you can’t move it in the middle of the year. Remember, the easier it is for you to move around the room, the easier it will be to help students and keep them focused.

3) Keep those paths clear!

This follows directly from point number 2. Do not paint in a corner, or even in the center of the room, placing desks or furniture without gaps or openings. You want to be able to walk around the room (from one potential trouble spot to another) quickly and without hindrance. If you’re using a “horseshoe” pattern, be sure to leave a few gaps for easy entry and exit of the shoe. Otherwise, that horseshoe will NOT bring you luck!

Remember that you may find yourself rearranging your classroom more than once this year. It’s okay to take stock every few months and think about how your setup is working for you.

However, no matter how often you move things around, these three tips will always keep you on the right track.