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Your classroom layout affects student learning
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015 12:33 PM

There are many aspects of the classroom that affect your students. Everything from windows and natural light to drinking fountain access can change your students' concentration. If you've ever moved around desks in your classroom, you've likely noticed that this simple update can really alter your class's behavior and habits. Here are some things to know before rearranging your class:

Watch for visual distractions
Think back to when you were in school. Did you ever find yourself daydreaming or staring out the window or the door to the classroom? Many students find visual stimuli, like people walking by, to be distracting. Keep this in mind when arranging your classroom. Try to minimize your students' exposure to outside activity. You can also make a seating chart based on which kids have the most difficulty focusing. Place those students in areas where sightlines are clear. Their peers who aren't as prone to distraction can sit in the few spots with visual access to the world outside the classroom.

Consider collaboration
Are you planning to have your students do some group work? If so, place the desks in group formations or use tables that fit multiple kids. This makes doing group work much easier than moving desks every time they have the chance to work together. Always pay attention to where the desks face, as you'll want everyone to be able to see the front of the room even when you cluster the desks together.

Switch up secondary features
Just like it's important to occasionally change your teaching styles to keep kids interested in preparing for the Common Core, you should change more than just the design of your classroom. Everything from what direction everyone faces to whom each student is sitting by can help keep a student engaged in learning. Don't just jumble the desks around to add interest. Make adjustments to your seating chart, change the art on the walls and even play with the lighting in your classroom. A study at the University of Salford Manchester in the U.K. found that access to natural light, changing temperatures and air quality and even the design of a classroom can alter a student's capacity for success. Just bringing in a few plants to your class may improve air filtration and help your students concentrate.