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Seating Layouts and plans

One of the quickest and most useful things that a teacher can do to change the mood and communication style of a class is to change the seating arrangements.

The Horseshoe


The Horshoe is my favourite classroom layout, because it provides you with quick access to everybody in the class.

Advantages: Good visibility, good for pairwork, easy access to individual students.

Disadvantages: Requires a large classroom.

Horseshoe Compact

The Compact Horseshoe is a compromise to fit more desks in the middle. This saves space, but often at the expense of manoeuvrability and visibility.

horse compact



Groups of Tables


This cluster approach works well for group work, it is more difficult to view individuals work.

Advantages: Fairly compact, students can work in groups and students can see whiteboard.

Disadvantages: Students can not communicate to different groups easily and slightly more difficult to monitor individual students work.



This layout is great when a teacher wants to encourage discussion amongst the class. To encourage discussion further it is best to remove desks.

Advantages: Good encouraging for discussions

Disadvantages: Difficult to see Whiteboards etc.


Back To Back

This layout is designed for information exchanges where one partner needs share information that the other is not supposed to see. It is a good way to break up a lesson and change communication styles.


Examination Layout


This is the layout favoured in the 1950's where every lesson was an examination. An alternative to this where space is really tight is to seat pupils in pairs. If you are forced to teach with this layout, try to teach from the back of classroom as much as possible. (A Clicker allows you to use PowerPoint at the same time.)

Advantages: Compact and can be used to maximise distances between students for examinations.

Disadvantages: Student discipline at the back and difficult for students to communicate with each other.

Conference Halls

Be warned that many conference halls are not ideally suited to English teaching and they are often laid out with circular tables. These are far from ideal for doing a lot of Whiteboard work and you must ensure that you have done meticulous preparation beforehand and really thought through the exercises and handouts you are going to use. They need to work well with the environment you are going to be. conferenceroom



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