Innovative Classroom Layouts and Ergonomic Ideas

As a teacher, you know that your body takes a beating throughout the day. Between standing and sitting, stooping to work with students, and so much more, it’s impossible not to go home with an aching back and legs. What’s more, classroom layouts and student comfort also play a role in learning outcomes. When a child’s basic needs, including physical comfort, are not met, they cannot learn effectively.

Luckily, there are some things that teachers can do to ease some of the physical strain that comes with their important job and to create conducive learning environments for all students. Let’s look closely at some of the innovative classroom layouts and ergonomic features to make a difference.

Innovative Classroom Layouts

There are several techniques that teachers can try to improve the physical environment for their students. One of the most important things is choice. Not all seating types or layouts work for all students. Offer different arrangements and allow students some autonomy in choosing what works for them, be it sitting in collaborative groups, pairs, individually, in circles, even on the floor, or sitting on a cushion. Encourage or even require them to move around throughout the day.

On that note, another element is change. Rearrange your classroom layout frequently (though not enough to cause chaos). Better yet, allow your students to rearrange the classroom, especially if you can get them to adhere to their learning styles. Doing so helps them develop ownership of the space and gives them responsibility for making the right choice for themselves. Let students help you decorate the room as well.

It’s also essential to incorporate some flexibility into your classroom. Instead of large pieces of immovable furniture, try to get smaller bookcases and supply storage on wheels. In general, try to make things as movable as you can. Again, that gives students (and you) the opportunity to personalize the room according to learning needs.

Perhaps most importantly, recognize that student learning will only go as far as you push it. That means that your comfort must come first. Consider what type of layout makes your life easier and find ways to blend that with your students.

innovative classroom layouts

Pay Attention to Posture

Your posture while sitting or standing will affect how your body feels. Work on standing up straight and standing evenly on both legs. When seated, try to keep your shoulders back; your arms should be at 90-degree angles.

You need to understand the role played by classroom desks as far as posture is concerned. The right desks can help you maintain a good posture, prevent slouching and ensure that long time use does not automatically result in the onset of neck and back problems. 

Try a Standing Desk

As much as you might be tired of being on your feet, a standing desk has multiple advantages for teachers. First, our posture is better when we stand; the human body was not designed to sit for long periods. Second, you appear more attentive and approachable to students. You’ll also be more alert. Finally, having a standing desk allows you to use it while lecturing or leading.

Move Around and Avoid Static Standing

As a teacher, you probably move around a lot, but it’s still worth mentioning, especially for those endless hours of grading. Change positions frequently and take a short break (about 2 minutes) every 30 minutes to stretch or walk around

Always avoid “static standing,” where you stand in place for long periods. This tactic is crucial for secondary and university teachers, who lecture for more extended periods.

Work with What You Have

All of this being said, we’re well aware that teachers are underpaid and already spend way too much of their own money on their students and classrooms. We’re not proposing spending thousands of dollars on your furniture. 

As with all aspects of teaching, make small changes that improve the classroom layout and environment for yourself and your students. Advocate for them and for yourself to get the things you need.

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Jennifer Albert is a former child therapist turned passionate freelance writer. She especially loves writing about children's rights and education. When not working she loves walking her dogs and painting.

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