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Different desk arrangements encourage different types of interactions between teachers and students.
Start off the year wit desk arrangements that encourage individual or partner learning to help them gain focus and the ability to work by themselves.
A few weeks later, start placing the desks in small groups of three or four people, with the desks facing each other. Sitting in groups lets students develop working relationships with a few students. But, switch the groups of students every three to five weeks, so that no one gets frustrated.
For presentations or readings, make sure there is a designated seat, podium or space for the presenter. Having a designated space for presenters indicates that the presenter has the right to the class's attention and focus. Also, having a small library and reading area is a great way to encourage and interest students in independent reading.
This information about seating and set-up in the classroom is from a section of Maria Carty's text Surviving and Thriving: Making Classroom Management and Organization Work for You and Your Students, published by Pembroke Publishers.