I am back in the grove of college classes and am currently reading the textbook “The Skillful Teacher”—a big red book designed to help teachers like myself. Over the course of the semester I hope to share some of my notes from my readings to my faithful online readers. I want to thank the people who read this blog and continue to spread the knowledge I am currently learning.
The particular section I am reading describes how space is essential to creating climate in a classroom. Each physical environment classroom environment–such as where desks and seats are placed–sends a different message about authority. Each arrangement uses physical setting to set the climate for the kind of interaction desired. The four types of settings:
1. Empty Learner: image to the rectangular room arrangement
2. Active Learner: furniture is movable, arrangements can be changed, learner is at the center
3. Social Leaner: circular classroom
4. Stimulus Seeking Leaner: The open classroom is when furniture is communally owned, and where private study spaces, learning centers, and public areas replace classroom halls, and traditional school furniture.
These 4 models of classroom setup help teachers match space to the type of instruction he/she is aiming to teach. As we know, learners are all these things–receivers of information, givers of information, and personal discovers of information—so a good teacher should consider the changing the physical setup of the classroom for different subject and at different points of the day. Although one setting is not better than another, each physical environment can help support the lesson goals of the teacher. Remember that designing a classroom is dynamic and can change throughout the year and throughout the day.
Other space arrangements can include:
1. Twos (ideal for partner work)
2. Circle or a “U” shape (ideal for conversation)
3. Clusters: (ideal for group work)
4. Rows: (ideal for solo student work)
Changing environments can seem time consuming, but a good teacher can change space arrangements quite quickly with the help of her students. Teachers can inform students at the beginning of the year the type of seat structure she desires, and have students move furniture in the first minute or two of class. Moving desks can become an automatic routine and students who come early can help with the setup. Most students are more than happy to help. The one or two minutes it takes to rearrange furniture can lead to increased satisfaction and productivity for the whole lesson.
The most important lesson we learn about making the most of your classroom’s space and furniture is to be deliberate about its use. Do not let empty space go to waste, and be conscious of the environment you are aiming to create. You have the power to change the physical environment to help instill a positive classroom environment. If you are interested in learning other classroom management and environment tips, be sure to check out a masters in education online program. Online programs can be a great resource for teachers wishing to improve in their trade.
Best of luck,