The Physical Environment of the Classroom

"A teacher must arrange the classroom environment to improve learning and to prevent problem behaviors before they occur."

Physical Environment
  • Affects both teachers and students
  • Is the easiest to manipulate
  • Classrooms should be organized to accomdate a wide variety of instructional programs and activites throughout the day

"If any changes need to be made its easier to change the seating arrangement for students than to change student behaviors."

Seating Arrangments

  • Certain seating arrangements work better than others depending on the activity
  • The classroom should be arranged to limit contact in high traffic areas, such as by the pencil sharpener
  • The teacher should have access to students with behavior problems at all times

"It is good to have a classroom that is well organized and allows the teacher to have quick access to those students who may have disruptive problem behavior."


Tradtional seating arrangements would work better during lectures and individual seatwork.


Semicircle arrangements otherwise known as horseshoe seating arrangements work best for discussion type sessions.


Pods or group tables work best for small group activities.


Useful Websites on Classroom Seating Arrangements.....

Classroom Set Up Tools.....

Seating Chart Maker.....
Whatever seating arrangment teachers choose, it is crucial to arrange seating so that.....
  1. Students who are tempted to behave negatively will have minimal interaction with other students by keeping desks far enough aprt
  2. The teacher has enough room between desks to walk around the room

Things to Consider in a Classroom Seating Arrangement

  1. Will every student be able to see the white board and bulletin boards with learning tools?
  2. Can the teacher see every student clearly?
  3. Is there plenty of room for lining up and exiting the room?
  4. Is there sufficient space between desks for backpacks, lunches, and coats? Many classrooms do not have a storage place for these items.
  5. Is there sufficient aisle space for wheelchair access or for a student on crutches?

Class Size

Small Classes/Schools
  • Students show higher achievment
  • Minority and low socioeconomic students have better outcomes
  • Students display less disruptive behavior
  • Allows teachers more time to focus on individual students
  • Theres a greater participation in extracurricular activities
  • Better attendance
  • Students experience a greater sense of belonging
  • Higher costs per student

Large Classes/Schools
  • Lower costs per student
  • High dropout rates
  • Less teacher-student interaction