7th Grade Classroom Layout

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by anthrogirl, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2010

    Hi, all. I'm a new first year teacher and I'll be teaching 7th grade social studies. I have some questions about layout and what is appropriate for this age group.

    I have a long, narrow classroom currently jammed with long desks that have the seats attached to them. There is little room for anything in the classroom and I'm still trying to figure out if I can fit a teacher desk in there at all.

    I found out today that the previous teacher in the room who has moved to a different room used tables. I think tables would be a better use of space and wouldn't feel so claustrophobic.

    The whiteboard is on one end of the room while the TV/DVD/computer hook up is on the opposite end. Students would have to turn uncomfortably in their seats or turn their whole desks around. I can't even put the desks into groups because of the chair attachments.

    To me, it would seem tables are the best way to go, especially since I hope to do many group-based or project-based activities. My concern is behavior/classroom management. I had heard that tables might be harder for newer teachers to handle. Is that true?

    I just want everyone to be comfortable and for the room to not feel so claustrophobic. I know 7th grade is a difficult time for students and I don't want to make things worse. Thanks :)
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2010

    I grouped my desks from day 1 in my first teaching position and didn't find it harder for behavior. So, I think tables would be the way to go. What I liked was that I could see all the students this way. When I have used rows, I found it harder to get to all the students and more difficult to see them all...

    Do what makes you feel comfortable in your space. If you are uncomfortable it will show and the students will pick up on this.
     
  4. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 19, 2010

    (I teach 7th grade.) My first year, I had a tiny room and 42 students per class. I had to seat 4 students around tables that should only be used by 2 students. It was awful. The students' notebooks and papers were always bumping into each other, and the students constantly talked and made faces at each other across the tables because they were so close. Partway through the year we were able to move to a bigger room. It was a pain switching classrooms, but it was so much better in the end! We had desks with chairs that pulled out, and I sat the students in rows.

    Now, I have the same tables as I had at the beginning, but a much bigger classroom. I seat the students 2 to a table, and put the tables in rows. When I need groups, the pairs of students turn and face each other (front row pairs with 2nd row, etc). I like having all of the students face forward when it's time for reading, writing, or listening to lecture because it cuts down on the temptation to talk or otherwise misbehave.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2010

    Tables may be difficult for new teachers because they can compound the difficulties in classroom management. They make cheating and chatting both a whole lot easier than having a desk all to yourself.

    Also,consider that you may not be the only teacher in your room; during the periods you're not teaching, there may very well be other teachers in there.
     
  6. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Aug 19, 2010

    My first year teaching middle school, I couldn't decide what worked best for me so I kept switching configurations on my students. One year on the first day, the students were in rows, another year, the students were in groups.

    I switched the desks periodically depending on what activities the students were doing. This past year, my students actually worked pretty well in groups so I had them in groups of 4 for most of the year (btw, the desks were the single desks WITH seats attached). Fridays were usually quiz/test day so every Thursday after school, I'd switch the desks into rows again to be ready for Friday morning. I had 2 seating charts (Mon.-Thurs. groups and Fri. rows). Students became really good at remembering where they sit and then by seeing the desks in the row configuration they automatically knew to turn on test-taking mode.

    This year I will have tables and chairs though, so I won't have much of a choice in how to arrange my room. I actually prefer the desks to tables.
     
  7. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2010

    Thanks for the replies!

    I'm so torn on this issue. I've never had my own classroom. I'm trying to envision a middle of the road approach, but it seems all or nothing. The desks I had during my student teaching were very versatile: I could put them in any combination. Not quite sure to do with these desks.

    The desks are long and narrow with the seat connected, so the student has to slide in from one side, but aren't like the boxy types. There's only enough room for a notebook and one arm, maybe a book, and seem to be all right-hand oriented. (Very old school building and desks.) So I can't put 2 or 4 desks together to make rows or groups. Because of the space issue, the rows are close together, too, so it's going to make getting in and out difficult, and I'll have difficult reaching the kids all the way in the back. I can't make a big aisle in the middle, either, because there isn't enough room.

    I found a link that shows what the desks look like, but because I'm new, I can't show you. If you google images with "school desks" it's the first picture that comes up labeled discarded school desks.

    With tables, I'll be able to move around a bit more, but obviously that comes with it's own sets of problems. Groups that I can't brake up are harder to control.

    That's a very good point. I do know that it is my classroom and I won't be sharing with another teacher. I can concerned about the chattiness/cheating aspect of it. Sadly, I don't have room to do both the desks and the tables.

    Wow, how did you manage that? Maybe I'm just not visualizing well. The desks I have if you put them together, the students can't get in.

    Thanks again for all the input. I'm really appreciating it. I have to reach a decision soon so I want to make sure I make a good choice.
     
  8. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2010

    Just an update...

    Well, they gave the tables away to another teacher right away so I don't have that option. The person who told me I had a choice didn't know that at the time.

    So I have 25 desks to try to arrange. It's an old school in an urban district so we don't have much. As it is, I can't reach the back of the room, can't fit a teacher's desk, can't access the computer, can't be near the old radiators, and can't block the doors. This means I have to fashion 25 sloped (not flat) desks with chair attachments that block off access on one side, fit in a space that would be better suited to hold 18 of these desks.

    I tried putting them two by two with a wide row down the middle, but the radiators and the need to to block the exits doesn't allow that. However, if I keep the current configuration, I can't access the shelves or the computer and I can't fit in the rows, as well as dealing with the chaos that might ensue with students turning the desk/chair around, back and forth, as I use the DVD on the back wall and then the whiteboard of the front wall. And that's currently without a desk.

    Anyone have any additional suggestions, website recommendations, or books I can check out to help?
     
  9. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2010

    Sounds very similar to a room that I teach out of now - except I think you might have even less room! I have my teacher desk slanted in the far back right corner. I got an extension cord/ethernet and placed my computer set-up in the front left corner. Then, I actually used 2 L's to line up my desks. It leaves a lot of room in the middle so it doesn't seem so crowded. I'm not sure if this will work, but I will try to show using x's:

    FRONT - WHITE BOARD

    Computer Space B
    /LCD L
    x x A
    x x c
    x x K
    x x
    x x B
    x x x x x x x D
    x
    x
    x x x x x x
    my desk (at an angle)
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  10. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2010

    I've got to say, I'd love to have a maximum of only 25 students per class! :)
     
  11. chebrutta

    chebrutta Fanatic

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    Aug 21, 2010

    Are all of the desks right- or left-handed? Is there anyway - if you have a mix of right- and left-handed - to group them 2x2?

    (I had all left-handed desks last year. It was a pain).
     
  12. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2010

    I have a rather small room but still managed to put my desks in a U shape, that way I can easily reach each student when I need to with the least amount of fuss or putting my back to students.
     
  13. kbee1219

    kbee1219 Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2010

    A few things to consider. All the desks don't need to be in the same configuration. So if you can maybe think of making different size groups.
    I had desks similar to what you are describing. I did group them in four, two back desks facing the front and the other two facing each other. Since there is a bar, kids would simply slide the desk out to get in it.
    I liked having my students in groups for some classroom management reasons. First it was easier to manage 6 groups then 12 pairs of desks. Second it enabled me to have a group reward system. Lastly, since desks move you can always physical have a student move if need or change the arrangement depending on the activity.
    Hope this helps!
     
  14. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2010

    Thanks!

    Many of the kids were very accommodating and even suggested different ways of arranging their desks. Turns out I just didn't give them enough credit ;)

    I'm still very limited in how to use the space and some parents weren't happy on parent night, but I do the best I can.
     

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