3 Tips for Setting Up Classrooms to Improve Classroom Management

Classroom Management
A multi-ethnic group of school children are indoors in a classroom. They are wearing casual clothing. They are sitting on the floor and eagerly listening to their teacher read a storybook.

When we talk about classroom management, we often lean on theory but forget the practical steps you can take. One of the best things you can do for your classroom, is learn how to physically set up your classroom for success. We asked Angela Isenberg to give us a few tips on how to properly set up your physical space to boost classroom management.

1. Control the environment not the students.

You don’t have the power to control your students, but you can control your environment. Creating a good seating chart and arrangement is one of the best ways you can control your environment.

I’d recommend that every teacher do this once they set up their classroom: sit in every seat in the room. See what that kid sees. Can the student see your rules? Is this student in the path for getting materials? Can all students see the board without turning around or straining their neck?  Is this desk near distractions like the door, window, pencil sharpener, etc. This will help you decide which students to put where based on their needs.

2. Make sure you’re able to get to every student and provide them individual attention.

Individual attention is critical to making sure students succeed in the classroom. If your classroom is set up in such a way that you can’t physically get to certain students, then you’re blocking yourself off and not able to use proximity and individual redirects to help manage that student.

3. Think about how you arrange desks in your classroom.

The best recommendation for arrangement is actually a U shape. Honestly, it’s really hard to find classrooms that are big enough for a U shape but it’s still one of the best recommendations. You can sometimes put some partner groups in the middle to accommodate more students, but always make sure you have a path to move around.

The second best arrangement is to create groups of four. The third best is creating student rows. When creating student rows, make sure to create a path that allows you to quickly get to all students so you don’t have to go all the way out and around.

It might be tempting to create groups of 6-8, but big groups are one of the least effective seating arrangements.

Angela has 24 years of experience in education. She has been in her current position for 12 years. Angela has trained and provided coaching support to over 200 campuses for PBIS. She is also a certified Restorative Practices coordinator. She is a trainer for Interventions, Coaching Classroom Management, CHAMPS, and Why Try.

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