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Most teachers usually have the ability to change the desk configuration of their classroom. Sometimes rows work for formal instruction. Sometimes a circular formation works to conduct a class-wide conversation or other activity. And sometimes, clusters of desks allow for small groups to form, enabling collaboration among peers. Research looked at how often teachers change the configuration of their classroom, regardless of the reason.

Twenty-one percent of teachers reported changing their classroom desk configuration every few months, followed by 14% who change it once a month, and an ambitious 13% who change their classroom around multiple times a day.

Frequency of Classroom Configuration Changes by School Size

Teachers in very large schools were the least likely (6%) to change the configuration of their classrooms multiple times a day, compared with the other school sizes and total overall. In a very large school, teachers may have simply too many desks in their classroom to move around that often. That same group was also the most likely to change their configuration once a week, or multiple times a week, however. They also selected “never” the most among the school sizes. Teachers in medium-size schools were the most likely to report that they change the configuration of their classroom multiple times a day (19% compared with 13% overall). That same group also reported the least for changing the configuration multiple times a week (6% compared with 9% overall).

Frequency of Classroom Configuration Changes by School Type

Teachers in elementary schools reported the most that they change their classroom configuration multiple times per day (18% compared with 13% overall). Elementary school teachers understand the fleeting nature of their young students’ attention, and changing up the classroom provides a fresh perspective, and avoids a stale environment. Teachers from senior high schools reported the most that they never reconfigure their classroom (8% compared with 5% overall) and were the least likely to change the configuration multiple times per day (5% compared with 13% overall). Middle/junior high and senior high teachers reported the most (14% and 12% respectively) that they change their classroom configuration multiple times per week, compared with 9% overall. Teachers in this subset understand the value of changing up the environment periodically, but with a slightly older age group than elementary school teachers, they don’t have to rely on different desk configurations to keep their students’ attention, or to keep the environment fresh.

Changes to Make the Ideal Classroom

If educators could create their ideal classroom, they would make improvements or upgrades to their overall space above all else (45%), as well as create bigger classrooms (31%), add more open space (24%), and upgrade technology (21%). In the next chapter, we will explore teachers wishes for technological changes in the classroom.

Key Takeaways

Opportunities these results suggest: Teachers want to create different learning experiences, with the understanding that not everyone learns best sitting at a desk all day. Opportunities exist for suppliers of active classroom products such as standing desks, movable furniture, play equipment, etc.

Top learning styles that emerged: Regardless of whether construction took place in their schools or if construction is needed, teachers want to see changes that will allow for increased physical movement during the learning process, will provide students with choices of being social or solitary in their learning space, and will provide resources for visual learners.

About this Research and Methodology

State of the K-12 Market 2018: The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success, is based on an online survey conducted by MDR, with a nationwide sample of K-12 public school educators. Teachers and librarian/media specialists were sent an email invitation to take the survey and 1,685 completed it. Data collection occurred from May 24 through June 17, 2018. Respondents were asked if their school had undergone a construction or renovation in the past five years, or if their school has a renovation planned in the near future. If neither was the case, they were asked if their school is in need of a renovation. Throughout the report, how the respondents answered this question will be referenced for perspective. Nearly one-fourth of the respondents work in schools planning a renovation, over one-third reported construction took place recently, and nearly two-thirds believe their school needs construction or a renovation in the next five years. This points to the importance teachers place on having modern, updated learning spaces in which to teach. Learn more about MDR Education reports at