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Effective classroom setup is your key to getting and keeping students' attention.
How do you keep student attention where it belongs...on you?
That's a question I raised a few months ago when I made my report, "Seeing Your Classroom Through a Childs Eyes" available to my newsletter subscribers. I received a lot of feedback and expanded it into a book based on your great input. (Thanks for that!)
One of the most common questions I heard from teachers was how to enhance student attention in your main classroom teaching area.
I learned a valuable lesson several years ago when my son was in Cub Scouts. During his first year in that group, the chairs were set up in regular rows and the meetings were, frankly, completely out of control. The following year when my husband and I took over, the first thing we did was to arrange all chairs into a "horseshoe" with the Cub Scouts sitting in the very front row.
It worked like magic. Immediately, behavior improved dramatically for the simple reason that for the first time...
all the children could see what was happening.
(I admit that it helped that their parents were sitting right behind them! But having a "front-row seat" is very important to a child...especially one with a limited attention span).
The overall layout
I apply that same philosophy to my main teaching and learning area in my classroom. I start with a well-defined space by laying a carpet immediately in front of my interactive whiteboard. But that's pretty basic. The greatest impact on the learning experience comes from my three benches.
These three benches allow half of my class the half that would normally be seated behind their peers on the floor to get an unobstructed view of my smart board.
NOTE: There's a reason that seats are tiered in movie theaters! Nobody likes looking at the back of someone else's head.
The view from my stool
This seating arrangement also makes it much easier for me to keep control of behavior because I can obtain their attention and pick up on mischief quickly.
To truly understand the impact of our classroom set up on our students, we must look at our rooms from their perspectives. If it is not arranged in a way that automatically enhances attention, then there's some tweaking to be done or we'll never achieve the hoped-for impact.
I cover creating an effective focal point as well as many other topics in my updated book "Seeing Your Classroom through a Childs Eyes."
It's packed with color photos, diagrams and pointers that will help you turn your classroom into the kind of learning environment that really makes a difference for children...without saying a single word.
What are your thoughts on the best classroom setup for student-centered teaching? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
Besides updating my thoughts on classroom setup, I've been busy finishing up more question-and-answer pages. I love answering the queries that I get from my readers! Be sure to send me your question using my Q&A form (link below).
Take a look at some of the questions I recently received.
Shy children and group projects
Helping your students fit in and thrive
Successful elementary science groups
Managing frustration while encouraging innovation
Responding to student threats
How do you handle violent words...from a kindergartner?
Is spanking in schools appropriate? Ever?
A small girl faces spanking or detention...for talking
See you next month...with more teaching insights and articles.
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