Practices at Work: Arranging the Classroom

Practices at Work: Arranging the Classroom

Practices at Work are articles from Fairfax County Public Schools Instructional Service Department. 


One of the first things you have to do is set up your classroom in a way that promotes student engagement and learning. It must be safe, both emotionally and physically, and provide students with the materials necessary for learning to take place.

What will you do? Will your room have an area for whole-group instruction? What about small group and independent work? What types of materials will students need to access regularly? How and where will these materials be organized? What areas of your classroom have worked well in the past? Which areas are you going to make more effective?

Arrangement of Classroom is critical—it impacts instruction, behavior, and the well-being of both the students and teachers. By arranging learning environments to support instructional outcomes, teachers create an atmosphere where students are engaged and on-task. It provides students a safe place to learn and tools to make thoughtful choices. With focused planning, we can design areas that meet the needs of all students.

Strategies in Action — Susan Kinsley, West Springfield High School

Because solid student-student relationships are equally as central to active engagement as student-teacher relationships, arranging my classroom space for student interaction is crucial. Groups of four students who can easily interact with the students next to and across from them work best. Numbering seats and tables allows me to easily call on individuals and groups for response or discussion. My room has enough space between groups for me to easily navigate to different tables in order to interact with and monitor students during cooperative activities. Arranging the groups around the perimeter of the classroom allows for space in the center for cooperative activities requiring that the class, as a whole, interact. In addition to the physical area for students to meet and interact as groups, I have designated areas of my classroom available for groups to display finished products for sharing and discussion. This layout provides for maximum student interaction and positive engagement with one another.

Watch the Best Practices For Teaching and Learning Video Collection on the Fairfax Network YouTube Channel. 

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