What story does your furniture tell about you?

As someone who has been spending a lot of time on interviews recently, walking into various classrooms at various schools, I can assure you that your furniture speaks volumes. All without saying a word.

Think about the way you chose to set up your classroom. Were you able to make that decision? Some of us have no choice; the desks are literally nailed to the floor. But the furniture in most teachers’ classrooms is moveable. It was probably arranged somehow when you first walked in to your classroom, however long ago that day might be. Did you change the way the desks were oriented? Did you move the teacher-desk? What did you put up on the walls? What kind of an environment did you create for your students?

Your students don’t have to have an advanced degree in either education or design to see what kind of learning space they have walked into when they stroll into class on the first day of school. Think about what messages these various spaces send. For the purposes of this exercise, ignore anything on the walls and what types of furniture being used. Concentrate on how the desks/tables and chairs are arranged. What do you think was the teacher’s intention for each class?

option A:

option B:

option C:


Which classroom would you like to be a student in?


3 thoughts on “Setting

    • An excellent idea. These are just ones I found on a google image search. I was going for empty classrooms (i.e. no students) that showed the furniture arrangements. If anyone wants to send me a picture of their classroom, I’ll post it up on my site.

  1. I am so deeply and sincerely an Option B person it is almost embarrassing to admit it in public. Except that in *MY* ideal Option B classroom, there would be more space around the perimeter of the seminar table and at least two walls would be covered in chalkboards or whiteboard material so you could start writing anywhere and just keep going. The other two walls would be covered with bookcases.

    One of the things I loved so dearly in some of the old buildings in my university back east was the fact that the corridors were lined with chalkboards, so that anybody could start up a mathematical conversation anywhere.

    I also loved those systems of chalkboards on pulleys, so you could pull one down, fill it, and roll it up while you filled up the next one… and the next one… and the next one…

    This is probably connected (either symptomatically or causally) to my lifelong addiction to office supplies.

    – Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

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