The Optimal Seating Plan? Letting Your Students Choose

BRIEF

Students can take charge of learning by controlling the seating plan

Dive Brief:

  • Students at the Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City, CA, make decisions daily about how to arrange furniture in classrooms to get the most out of each assignment, whether it is group work, independent work, mini-lessons or large-group discussions.
  • Edutopia reports teachers can start by giving students surveys about how they prefer to learn and plan lessons accordingly, later asking students to move furniture around and choose certain stations to achieve concrete goals for each day.
  • Tables can go against walls for independent work, at the sides of the classroom for collaborative work, in the middle of the room for small group lessons and in circles facing each other for large-group discussions.

Dive Insight:

Many educators have realized the shift to new 21st century teaching strategies does not align with the neatly arranged rows of traditional classroom desks. Classroom design is becoming a key element of School 2.0. Some schools are turning to donated furniture or applying for grants to cover the cost of refurbishing classrooms. Others buy a little at a time to spread out the cost or take advantage of bulk purchasing power to spend less per item.

Offering students a range of seating options creates another opportunity for personalization. If one student works better sitting on the floor, she should be able to do so in class. If another wants a bean bag chair and will focus better sitting in it, he should. Beyond furniture, schools are paying attention to the amount of natural light in a classroom, recognizing more natural light correlates with better learning outcomes.

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