Arranging Your Classroom

American Federation of Teachers

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Effective classroom arrangement: You have control over how your classroom is arranged. Research shows that effective classroom arrangement maximizes student learning by contributing to good classroom management and supporting effective instruction. This information is based on the research of Carolyn Evertson, Edmund Emmer and Linda Anderson.

Keys to Good Classroom Arrangement:

  1. Avoid unnecessary congestion in group work areas; classroom entrance and exit; pencil sharpener and trash can; lavatory, sink and water fountain; bookshelves, storage and supply stations; special displays; teacher’s desk; and computer stations.
  2. Always have a clear view of students Verify that all students can see instructional displays.
  3. Place learning areas so students can move from one to another with little or no disruption.
  4. Place storage space and necessary materials so they are easily accessible.

Tips for Arranging Furniture:

  1. Make sure all students can see you, the chalk and/or whiteboard(s) and other instructional displays.
  2. Consider potential distractions: windows, doors, etc. Leave walking space around students’ desks.
  3. Position yourself so you can see all students at all times.
  4. Avoid placing learning centers and work areas in “blind corners”.
  5. Seat students who need extra help near you.
  6. Arrange students’ desks in rows facing instructional areas until you’ve learned their names, work habits and personal traits.

Storage Space:

  1. Place instructional materials where they are easily accessible to instructional areas.
  2. If you must use tables or desks with inadequate storage, consider storing student materials in “tote trays” where they will be easily accessible but out of the way.
  3. Provide adequate, conveniently located space for students’ belongings.
  4. Provide easily accessible bookcase shelves for everyday books and materials not kept in students’ desks.
  5. Keep long term, seldom used or special occasion items in a location outside of the classroom.

Other Things to Consider:

  1. Choose a particular spot, easily seen by all students for posting daily assignments (weekly, if possible).
  2. Use walls and bulletin boards to display rules, procedures, assigned duties, a calendar, schedule, student work and extra credit activities.
  3. Use ceiling space to hang mobiles, decorations and student work; use windows to displays or decorations.
  4. Check all electrical equipment to be sure it works, and learn how to use the equipment before using it in class.
  5. Have a sturdy extension cord available if an electrical outlet is not within easy reach.
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