I am continually changing the layout of my room. It frustrates the students and if I’m brutally honest it frustrates me too. I just haven’t found a layout that works for me all the time with all my groups. I know its a bit of a joke amongst the rest of the department who change from rows or single desks to grouped tables usually only when doing group activities. My thought process goes like this :
I like a U shape (with a smaller U in the middle of the room), as I think its quite a mature setting – a lot of corporate layouts are like this; its adaptable in that the inner row can turn around and join those on the outside and hey presto! you’ve got groups. All of the students are able to see the board clearly and I can circulate around the room very easily. The downside for me is that the students also have a clear view of the rest of the group and this can lead to some low level off task behaviour and I have to be “on the ball”. My year 10’s and 11’s are ok with this kind of setting, 6th form thrive with this kind of layout but my year 9’s can get quite loud and sometimes off task as its a new setting for some of them.
Grouped tables allow lots of group work and discussion, but I find that individual work can be difficult for some and unless you are careful it is difficult to make sure that all students can see the board. I also like this because this year learning packs (ALL the equipment a student could possibly need) were introduced in every classroom and I disassembled them and put equipment baskets in the centre of each group. I never heard “Miss, I haven’t go a pen” etc and it was brilliant!. But what message does that send to our students about them being responsible for ensuring they are ready to learn. Once the students get over the novelty of sitting in groups in a maths room I have found it works quite well, I just think that its something for me to use, when the activity/lesson requires it.
My class is an OK size I suppose (16 double desks) so I can have them as 4 rows of 4 on either side of the room or just 16 desks. I find this quite restrictive and doesn’t allow for discussion very well, What I must say though is that the low level misbehaviour is never an issue like this.
In previous years I’ve started with a U shape and moved the room into groups when I wanted to do some teamwork activities that required more space between each group. I also persevered through the year 9 low level misbehaviour and they came out the other side. For some reason last term I started with a horseshoe shape for about 5 weeks, then grouped tables for about 5 weeks and then the last 5 weeks changed to single desks in rows. I feel that by reverting to the tried and tested single tables I took the easy option but behaviour improved. I also feel that by changing my room around I was sending a message to the classes that its “my room” … not in itself a bad thing but the changes must certainly be unsettling for some students.
I feel it is time for a change … back to the horseshoe shape it is then!! which means new seating plans … there’s my evening sorted then!