Issue 73: Arranging the class

By this I mean how and where the children sit.

I think my favourite way is for us all to sit in a circle on the floor. This works well for me for groups of up to about thirty, give or take a couple. The classes I teach are usually primary school age, with around 30 to 33 children in each class. I can’t be bothered with the kerfuffle and organisation required to provided seating. Maybe some adult teachers find that sitting cross-legged on the floor doesn’t suit them, but it doesn’t bother me. I find that visiting staff (supply teachers and observers) are often caught out, but regular co-workers know that they either have to wear suitable clothing or remain standing!

My ultimate sanction for fidgety behaviour is to insist that boys and girls must alternate round the circle. I find that most classes arrive ready segregated with the boys and the girls in two separate groups. Imposing a “boy/girl/boy/girl” pattern can sort out a lot of low-level disruptive chatting and fidgeting.

Circles don’t work when you have two or more children who set each other off – they spend the lessons inciting each other to giggles, catching each other’s eye, pulling faces and generally disrupting everything. In this case, I resort to sitting in rows, with the trouble makers at the back, at opposite ends, sandwiched between more trustworthy classmates. I learnt the hard way that if you put the miscreants in the front, where you have them under your gaze, they can turn round and distract the children in the row behind. If they are at the back, no-one else in the class can see them. No audience, no fun.

Some lessons have to be in rows, when you want everyone to look at a whiteboard or central display. In which case, troublemakers to the ends and the back is still a good rule of thumb.

Occasionally, especially if the class has been working in small groups dispersed around the room, I’ll call them to “come and sit on the carpet”. There isn’t a carpet, of course, but the children will come and sit in a packed group close to me. I use this arrangement for story-telling activities. I like the intimacy and “fireside” feel that this brings.


This entry was posted in The organised teacher, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.