What Classroom Seating Arrangement Is Right For You?

The seating arrangement you choose has a big impact on how your classroom functions. You put a lot of work into lesson plans; don’t let a poor desk arrangement undo all that hard work!

By creating a seating arrangement that suits your teaching style, you are setting both yourself and your students up for success.

But before you start thinking about how you want to arrange your desks, you have a lot of things you need to consider.

Things To Keep In Mind

Classroom Size/Shape

You only get so much space to work with. Think about how many students you have and how much space you have to fit them in. Are there obstructions in the classroom such as poles or walls that can’t be moved? All of this will have an impact on how seating can be arranged.

Classroom Furniture

What kind of classroom furniture do you already have? While you may be looking to replace some of it, more likely than not you’re going to be using most of the furniture items you used last year. Take a hard look at which furniture items worked and which ones did not.

If you are willing to spend a bit of money on your classroom, be sure you invest in products that are going to decrease stress, save time, and offer flexibility. For example, mobile dry erase boards give you flexibility in your classroom because it can be shifted around the space as needed. Items like these are perfect for just about any modern classroom.

Classroom Distractions

You want students focused on you and their work, not what other kids are doing on the playground or who is walking down the hallway. Try to keep seating away from these more distracting areas so the focus stays on your lessons. The simplest of things can distract students during class.

What’s Your Teaching Style?

How you arrange student desks in your classroom should depend almost entirely on your teaching style. Do you prefer to lecture, or are you planning to implement project-based learning? Are you considering adding flexible seating to your classroom? Your teaching style and objectives dictate what type of classroom seating arrangement is going to be most productive.

Lecture – You plan to do most of your teaching in the front of the classroom by reading, presenting, and teaching information. For the most part, students will be listening to you teach all day.

Delegator – You promote self-learning in your classroom. You plan to take a more background role as students develop their critical thinking skills by working together or independently based on tasks you assign.

Collaborative – You plan for students to spend a lot of time working in groups, pairs, and collaboratively. You want students to interact primarily with each other or as a whole in a discussion setting.

Blended – You don’t plan to stick to a strict teaching style, instead blending the many different styles together based on what works well with your curriculum and your students.

Classroom Seating Arrangements

So, you’ve thought about your classroom space and furniture, and taken your teaching style into account. Now it’s finally time to come up with the perfect classroom seating arrangement.


Traditional rows are still a common way to arrange classroom desks, and for good reason. With students all facing one direction it’s much easier for teachers to limit distractions and keep an eye on students. This method also works well for pretty much all classroom sizes. One of the biggest downsides, however, is that students in the back may not have much interaction with the teacher, and reconfiguring for group work can be time-consuming.

Ideal For: Lectures, Blended


This desk arrangement forms the shape of the letter “U” in your classroom, which means students are facing three separate directions. This is perfect for large group discussion while giving teachers a space to lecture and room to work with students individually. The large area is also ideal for bigger presentations and activities. This does, however, make it challenging for students to work in small groups and doesn’t work well for smaller classrooms.

Ideal For: Lectures, Blended, Delegator


Clustering desks together into groups of four is perfect for student interaction and group work. This seating arrangement will promote collaboration and smaller groups tend to be better suited for shy students. It is also excellent for classrooms that are lacking space. Inevitably though, this style of seating arrangement does lead to distractions, and it can be challenging to lecture when some of your students are facing away from you.

Ideal For: Delegator, Collaborative

Flexible Seating

There’s no one arrangement when it comes to flexible seating. Instead, your focus will be on setting up a variety of seating options. This can include items such as desks, bean bags, pillows, mats, and pretty much anything else you can think of. If you do plan to use flexible seating make sure there’s plenty of options for your students to choose from.

Ideal For: Differentiated Instruction

What’s your favorite seating arrangement? Let us know in the comments!

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