A seating chart is one thing: where each student sits within a classroom structure. A classroom map is a much more important consideration: how do you arrange the furniture in your classroom to best facilitate learning?
I've had desks, tables, comfy chairs, a couch, a desktop computer lab, Chromebooks, and everything in between in my classroom.
I've really come to two conclusions:
1) Include Places for Privacy
2) Include Space for Student Work
3) Clear Sight Lines are Imperative
4) Avoid Hiding Spots
5) Eschew Clutter
My social studies teacher, (the teammate that I work with, not any of the teachers who taught me) and most social studies teachers, have good reason to keep a wealth of documents, books, movies, CDs, and primary sources in their classrooms. When studying history, those documents help a lot, and I understand. There are some other applications for keeping lots of paper or objects in a classroom (like an art classroom keeping old student projects as examples and non-examples of good work.)
Most classrooms, though, are filled with too much stuff. There are piles everywhere in most rooms. Piles of old workbooks. Piles of student work that hasn’t been passed back. Piles of gym clothes students leave by accident. Piles of old computers or encyclopedias. Boxes of whatever you ordered three years ago before the budget got cut. A few broken desks that are labeled ‘remove’ that the janitor hasn’t got to yet. You get the point. Get rid of clutter. It distracts students by giving them something to look at and mess around with instead of paying attention to your lesson. It’s really hard for students to fidget with the useless objects all over your room when there aren’t any objects in your room.
Actual clutter also creates visual clutter, making it easier for students to get away with random badness, because when you look out at a cluttered classroom, you see a scene akin to a page from a Where’s Waldo book. If your eyes can’t immediately focus on the glow of a cellular phone from under a desk, you have too much stuff. If you’re not sure what’s in a drawer, just throw it all in the recycling bin. If you’re not sure when they taught Tom Sawyer but there are still 120 copies of the book in your classroom, take it down to your school’s library or book room. If there are three disconnected computers waiting to be hooked up, or if they’re outdated and waiting to be cleared off to the computer afterlife, make the necessary calls, and get them out of your classroom immediately. Clutter makes managing a classroom harder. Get rid of it.
6) Avoid Personal Decorations
So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.