Classroom Management – Part 1

For lessons to be successful, your classroom management is of paramount importance. You may have the best planned lesson ever but if your classroom isn’t set up well and your instructions don’t work then the lesson will fail.

What is involved in Classroom Management?

  • classroom layout
  • student/teacher interaction
  • setting up activities including giving and checking instructions
  • feedback on activities
  • use of technical aids

In this post I will talk about setting up the classroom and consider a variety of interaction patterns.  For instruction giving, see part 2.

Classroom Layout & Interaction Patterns

Where should the students and teacher be seated?  Should there be desks or not?   What (if any) equipment is required for the lesson?

The good old days? CC0 1.0

In order to determine where students would be best seated we have to consider the different interaction patterns that will be used during the lesson.  Ideally students will get the chance to work with a variety of different people in a number of different constellations, therefore most teachers choose the horseshoe classroom layout to enable students to quickly change interaction according to the activity.

Different activities require a different interaction pattern, for example, a listening or reading task has to be done individually whereas a collaboration task would require students to work in small groups.  The horseshoe layout enables students to work alone, or in pairs and, just by moving one or two chairs to the other side of the table, a group can be quickly formed.  The horseshoe also ensures all students can see the whiteboard / screen or any other equipment that might be used at the front of the class.

Other possible seating positions are:

  • islands, where a few tables are set up around the classroom and students sit together in groups (good for groupwork but not all students can see the front)
  • traditional classroom layout with individual desks (good for tests/individual work but not ideal for an interactive classroom)
  • boardroom where the whole class sit around one large table (good for small classes and enables the teacher to blend in as another member of the class rather than an authority figure)

As a student, which layout would you prefer?


Author: Emma Jones

A CELTA Tutor based in Munich and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

4 thoughts on “Classroom Management – Part 1”

  1. My favoured layout as an adult learner is the boardroom, as I’ve had very positive experiences with it in the past. I imagine I’d prefer it as a teacher of adults too. However from what I’ve seen online about the CELTA it’s more likely that we’ll use the horseshoe layout, especially as it facilitates various interaction patterns. Possibly the boardroom is more suited to a conversational style of teaching that may be more appropriate for higher level learners.


    1. Hi Sophia

      I have had the boardroom layout with some classes and it works well, especially when the teacher should „just“ be another member of the group. It is still possible to use different interaction patterns but I don‘t think it is as flexible as the horseshoe.


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