February 01, 2022 3 min read
We’ve already discussed that the physical environment a student learns in has a direct correlation with the academic performance of students. But this extends far beyond the flexible classroom furniture you invest in; it involves the way in which a classroom is laid out.
There is no single classroom layout that suits every classroom activity, however, to effectively engage students in an activity, the classroom layout should reflect the needs of the task at hand. In fact, the way in which your classroom is set up can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the lesson and the learning potential of the students.
For example, if you’re conducting a group task in a classroom that is laid out using a rows and columns student desk layout, the classroom layout would be directly hindering the student's potential to complete the task effectively. As a result, the students cannot reap the benefits of the activity. Instead, you would organise the student desks to form clusters so students can collaborate and communicate effectively. In this regard, classroom layout can drive the success of a classroom activity.
Based on this theory, the classroom must be able to adapt the demands of the task. This is where flexible classroom furniture come in. Reconfigurable, flexible classroom furniture like much of the school furniture sold at Reed Furniture is designed to easily facilitate for any task. Flexible classroom furniture like Reed Furniture’s Guided Reading Table is specifically designed for guided reading tasks. The Guided Reading Table is a user-friendly, 6-seater classroom table that features a functional 'U' shape design to provide effective teacher-student interaction for intensive learning and allow for easy collaboration to facilitate for guided reading tasks.
Studies have suggested that classroom layout plays a significant role in nonverbal communication of the classroom activity. In fact, environmental psychologist Robert Sommer wrote in his 1977 study that “One can learn to “read” the physical arrangement of the chairs and desks, use of decorations, real and symbolic barriers to gauge the present and desired levels of interaction”. To demonstrate this theory, a classroom that is laid out with individual desks would denote to students that independent work, a test or exam would be taking place. Similarly, if a student entered a classroom with clustered student tables, they would likely presume collaborative, teamwork would be taking place. Understanding the nature of the task purely from the arrangement of the classroom will then determine the behaviour expected of the students before they even begin the task.
When you consider how important the classroom layout is in driving the desired work ethic from students, it becomes critical that schools are investing in flexible classroom furniture that allows them to reconfigure their classroom environment as they need it. Mobile school desks or lightweight classroom desks are ideal pieces of flexible classroom furniture to invest in as they can be easily moved or transported to accommodate for changing tasks.
Modern classrooms and future focused classrooms often divide the classroom into multiple learning spaces to cater for multiple activities. It’s about providing the most effective space suited to the task. Quiet learning areas are a good example of spaces created purely for its activity. Since this is the area students are expected to sit and read, it’s only fitting that this area is furnished with lounges and ottomans to maximise comfort. Students are less likely to be engaged in quiet reading if they are uncomfortable.
Exploring this idea further, we can understand that classroom layout can aid in student behavioural management. Teachers can allocate students to sit in specific seats that will give them the best chance at succeeding academically. This is because teachers have a greater understanding of the personalities and characteristics of the students, plus any learning difficulties that they can take into consideration to ensure they are not being placed in an environment that may distract them. In doing so, teachers may choose to keep defiant students closer to their desks or implement space between certain students to prevent disruptive behaviour.
Contrarily, to ensure students are using classroom furniture that will allow to them to effectively complete the classroom tasks, it may be important to give them a choice – this is referred to as flexible seating. Whilst you can designate spaces for students specific for a task, these seating solutions may not work best for all students. For example, a student experiencing ADHD may benefit from using a wobble stool, as opposed to a general classroom chair when completing collaborative work because it allows them to fidget and dispense energy without distracting their peers.
Giving students a choice of where to sit will give students a sense of autonomy which contributes to students feeling motivated, focused and active in class. This has been linked to increased academic performance because students are more likely to actively participate in classroom activities when they feel they have a sense of control in their learning experience.
It becomes clear based on the research that classroom layout determines how effectively students can complete the activity asked of them. That’s why we’ve seen the move toward flexible learning environments, designed to accommodate for a range of classroom activities.
Fortunately, this move to a more flexible learning environment doesn’t have to be an financial burden. In fact, making small changes to your classroom now with flexible classroom furniture can form building blocks to eventually transform your learning environment into a classroom designed to maximise the academic potential of students.
Don’t know where to start? Our team of specialists can help you build an active and dynamic classroom your students can thrive in! Get in touch today!
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