Why are we still teaching this way? Clearly, it isn’t working.

So, I’ve kind of been on a “Blog About Teaching” kick lately. If you’re not in the teaching field, bear with me for the next few posts. I promise they won’t just be for the “teacher types”. I’ll make it fun. I’ll cater to your learning style. I’ll differentiate. (Ooh… teacher buzz word! Take a shot. Seriously, there should be drinking games out there for teachers. Games they can play during professional development days. It would make those meetings so much more bearable…)

Anyway… teaching. Ah, yes… TEACHING.

Can we talk about seating arrangements for a moment? Okay, thanks.

So, um… do you think we could we please stop doing this:


Seriously? The person who first came up with the idea to group children’s desks in pods, needs to be smacked across the face really, really hard. Like this:

I’d love to see how that first conversation went.

“Hey, teacher colleagues! I have a really, really horrible idea I want to share with you all! Let’s group our students together in pods where they can poke, touch, talk, bother and distract each all day long and not get a lick of learning done! But we’ll market it under the guise of “collaborative learning groups”, and pretend that the kids are learning from one another, when really, absolutely no learning is being done what-so-ever! The administrators and education big wigs will love it because we’ll call it “collaborative”. Who’s with me?!”

Seriously, just…

Every classroom I have ever been in since student teaching has grouped their desks together in pods. I thought nothing of it until I started subbing and realized they cause more distraction than collaboration.

Most students have a hard enough time controlling their bodies. Put them in a group with other students who also have a hard time controlling their bodies and pretty soon everyone is all…

All day long. From their seats. Nothing gets done. Because Johnny is poking Sarah with his pencil. Jarred is copying Michael’s paper. Ginger and Mary Ann are talking about their sleepover last weekend. And Mohammed is playing keep-away with Leslie’s assignment. And the teacher is all…


I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. When I was in school, students’ desks were only arranged in pods in kindergarten and 1st grade. After that, we sat in rows… where we weren’t able to poke, prod, distract and bother those around us. When you put students into pods, they don’t even have their own personal bubble. All their bubbles are overlapping. No wonder they can’t keep their hands to themselves… they don’t have the room to!

In addition to the inclination for distraction that pods cause, grouping desks in this way also means that at some point, at least half of your students have their backs turned away from you and the main instructional area. How does that make sense? Especially for young students who have the attention span of gnats? Why are we doing this to them? And then we have the audacity to lecture them for not paying attention and distracting the other students? How does that work?

I’m not saying we have to put students into straight rows like nice little soldiers, but there has to be a better way to incorporate collaboration and independent work into our seating arrangements.

What about the horseshoe?


Where everyone is facing the teacher but can still collaborate with their classmates?

Or how about this:


Where all eyes are on the teacher and the instructional area but students are still able to collaborate?

I just think there are so many more creative ways to arrange a classroom that is conducive to collaboration and an orderly classroom. Why aren’t more teachers thinking outside the box? Pods aren’t the only way to go, peeps. Quite frankly… they drive me up the walls. And that’s all that really matters, right?

How about you? How do you arrange your classroom? What works and what doesn’t?

One thought on “Why are we still teaching this way? Clearly, it isn’t working.

  1. You Monsters Are People says:

    I’m passionate about kids growing up to be lifelong learners and creators instead of just good employees. The pod arrangement is abysmal. I remember the first time they swapped us from a face forward arrangement to pods. I lost all desire to focus and began doodling or playing all the time. I also spent a few years in a gifted program and that didn’t even use traditional desks or a seating arrangement.

    Liked by 1 person

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