The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Does classroom furniture make a difference?

The physical arrangement of the furniture in a classroom can be either a help or a hindrance to student learning. It is important that a teacher be aware of how students react to specific classroom arrangements so as to create the most effective learning environment within the given space.

As a teacher, “You are a placemaker, an individual who creates a place that supports teaching and learning to the greatest extent possible” (McEwan 2006). This can be done through the classroom set up. Specifically, rooms can be set up so as to be territorial or functional.

The classroom I am observing this quarter is designed in a flexible, yet territorial manner. Specifically, students are assigned specific seating in rows of rectangular tables. Sets of two tables are pushed together to form one 4-student desk. There are 4 rows of the 4-student desks with 3 sets of desks per row. The students face the white board and can easily move their chairs to work in groups. This structure keeps students focused and attentive to the task at hand, while allowing for the flexibility of different teaching strategies.

To one side of the room, there is a “quiet space”. This provides any student the opportunity to remove themselves from the noisiness of the class and work independently in a less distracting atmosphere. In this way, my mentor teacher has created a space that is conducive to multiple learning styles and removes unnecessary distractions.

By changing the seat assignments regularly, she gives her students the opportunity to work with multiple people in the class. This not only builds camaraderie amongst students, but allows students to learn from different people throughout the school year.

As observed in the classroom, furniture arrangement and structure are pivotal in creating an effective learning environment.

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