Preparing for each new, upcoming school year usually consists of developing creative curriculum, determining response to intervention techniques, developing formative and summative assessment measurements, and arranging your classroom. While certain items on that list seem to stand out as of a higher importance than others, it’s worth noting that the ways in which you choose to design the layout of your classroom is not a negligible decision. In fact, many teachers with a firm history and established presence of educational success will argue that classroom design is key to driving engagement and classroom management. Whether you’re preparing for a new class of students to enter your room this academic year or simply trying to revamp your current arrangement, take a look at these tips for bettering classroom engagement through tactical design:

Consider students’ age

As Behavior Advisor points out, one of the most important factors that you can consider when determining how to arrange your classroom is the age of the students whom you will be teaching. Your classroom is certainly a learning environment, but it is also a collection of much smaller individual learning spaces. More clearly, each occupied desk in your room will be its own sovereign entity for the year and will have some level of influence on not only the student seated there but also on every other student in the room. In the case of younger students, you’ll often want to arrange the room so that you have as much vision as possible of all of your pupils. This way, you’ll be able to negate distractions as they arise. Consider arranging desks in a circle, instead of rows, so that teaching from the center of this arrangement will create one focal point for all students in the class to center their attention.

Reduce transitions and distractions through positioning of equipment

Any teacher with experience under their belt can tell you with confidence that transitions are often the hardest times to hold the attention of a class. Whether this is a break between periods or a moment in instruction when you have to move from one activity to another, this time presents a prime window for misbehavior or distraction to occur. Luckily, you can use classroom design and arrangement to ensure that you need not encounter any more of these moments than are absolutely necessary. Consider the placement of electrical outlets and various materials used for instruction when you design your seating chart. Place your equipment around the room in such a way that you maintain student focus during instruction. This will reduce or eliminate any potential moments that you could lose the attention of your pupils.

Student interaction is key

While the stereotypical image of a classroom may be rows of desks all aimed forward at the instructor, the reality is that this is simply not the ideal method. As Scholastic has reported, one of the most efficient mentalities to take towards classroom designing is aiming to give every student in the room a front-row seat, so to speak. One great way to do this while also promoting heightened interaction among your students is to arrange cooperative groups of four to six desks. This will allow, but not require, your students to collaborate on work that you distribute or assign, while also fostering a sense of unity. You can also rotate students throughout different desks as the year goes on in order to ensure that the arrangement doesn’t become stagnant.