So I’ve been trying to get on the blogging initiative, but I wasn’t really able to get everything together, so here is my second entry.
My school doesn’t assign classrooms to teachers. Each classroom is usually shared between a group of teachers, who all want to do different things with the room. This means if you want the room set up a certain way for your lesson, you usually have only the 5 minute passing period to make it happen. My favorite room configurations are ones that work well with our school’s room sharing.
I’ve had some success when I trained my kids to whip the desks into a different shape early in the period. When I shared the class with my colleague Marcus, the room was frequently in a U-shape. On the first day I trained students sitting in the ‘legs’, and ‘base’ of the U to drag their tables into small groups. I even taped labeled pieces of paper on the tables so kids knew which ones to push together. They became pretty good at getting them into position. I, on the other hand, was only average at remembering to ask them to put it back before the end of class, meaning I had to spend a lot of time after class getting the desks back in place for Marcus’s class.
My favorite arrangement for a classroom in is the “Banquet” table set up. This set up is favored by the 3 other math teachers in 302, so if you teach in that room, no moving desks! I call it the banquet table because the seats are all facing each other in two long columns from the front to the back of the room. No one’s back is to the board and kids can easily collaborate. If I’m in the central aisle, I can see what everyone is working on in one glance, and I have lots of space to pull a kid aside if needed. If I’m standing at the front of one table I can quickly get all of their attention. At the beginning of class when no one has their stuff out, I can slide their folders down the long table like an old-timey bartender.
This arrangement also really supports doing group work for our school. As a transfer school, our attendance is unpredictable, so this setting lets student naturally sit where they can work with neighbors. Typically when kids work in assigned groups there is always one group who has 2 or 3 kids missing or late each day.