Ideal Classroom Arrangement for Primary Education in Malaysia
Classroom is a common place for teacher and students to do teaching and learning process. A classroom usually comprises of at least 30 students in a common primary school in Malaysia. With that number of students, it is quite difficult to fit them all in a small classroom as can be seen in school nowadays. Giving them a place to sit in the class is easy yet to fit and conduct activities with them seems to be complicated. There is a quotation taken from the fourth edition of Elementary Classroom Management saying that “the physical environment can and should be organized so as to further the program of instruction and activity”. From that quotation, it can be concluded that physical environment is closely related to the effectiveness of the classroom activity or lesson. In a simpler words, everything that are put in the classroom should have instructional purpose. It will be nice if a teacher decorate the classroom with ribbons or flowers to make it appears more attractive but it is crucial to make sure that the room is not overly decorated as long as it is suite the pupils. Therefore, the duty of arranging things in classroom for the effectiveness of teaching and learning process lies on the shoulder of the class teacher. An effectual classroom is essential in establishing conducive climate for teaching and learning process. There is a research done which proves that physical arrangement can affect the behaviour of both students and teacher. Even a tiny changes or appearance will give a big impact to student’s cognitive thinking and behaviour. So, teacher need to consider every aspect in arranging the classroom so that it will provide benefit for the students.
There are many aspects need to be considered by a teacher in order to create an effective physical environment in classroom. First and foremost, the teacher needs to consider the type of seating arrangement that suits the students in the classroom the most. For primary school classroom, groups seating arrangement is recommended. That is because primary school students learn mostly by doing various groupwork activities. However, it does not mean that a row seating arrangement is not appropriate. All seating arrangements have their own benefit to certain situation. It mainly depends on the size of the classroom. Usually, the size of classroom in our country’s schools are not that big. So, the arrangement in the class should take consideration of the space. However, the teacher needs to make sure that there must be spaces between seats so that the teacher and also the students can walk freely from one place to another. A class with good traffic flow is effective as the students and teacher can easily move from place to place. It will be easier for the students to do activities that require them to move around and also forming groups. Foreman (1996) once said that “some classroom may require free and quiet spaces to facilitate learning” while Fred Jones, a classroom management expert said that “teacher mobility should be the aim of any classroom seating arrangement”. After studying many types of seating arrangements, we can come into conclusion that the seating arrangement like in the diagram shown above is the most ideal arrangement in Malaysian classroom. This conclusion comes with various reasons. The most prominent reason is that the teacher’s ability to see and be seen by all the students during the teaching and learning process will be maximized. When the teacher’s ability to see and be seen increase, it is good for one of the most used teaching method in Malaysian classroom which is demonstration. Moreover, the teacher will have good eye contacts with the students which will definitely be helpful in delivering the lesson. In the diagram above, it can be seen that all students will sit with their friends. In context of social, they will not face any problem because this arrangement will not make students live in isolation. So, academic discussions between students during lesson will be easier for them. The students are divided into three corners which are left, middle and right. It depends on the teachers and situations whether to group them base on their level. If teacher wants to group them base on their level, low achievers should seats in the middle while the others who can perform well in examination will be given seats in the left and right side. This is because the middle seats are called action zone whereby the students who sit in the middle are more likely to be given better attention by the teacher. For that reason, there will be more interactions occur between them with the teacher. Still, the teacher need not to mention why the students are seated that way so that the students will not feel low when knowing that they are given seats in the middle because they are weak.
Aside from considering the type of seating arrangement in class, a good teacher should also offer some spaces in the classroom specially for activity during lesson. For example, a mini library in a classroom is a must nowadays. Most of the Malaysian classrooms are provided with mini library at one side of the class. The purpose of having mini library in class is to support reading environment. Whenever there are free time, the students will go and sit in that corner with their friends and share what they saw or read in any book that can be found. This will enhance their desire towards reading. However, teacher should always make sure to add new books in every two weeks or ask the students to donate any book that can be found at home. Besides donating, the students can also bring any book that they found interesting to be put at the mini library for a week so that other students can read the book also. So, they will share the book among them and sometimes teacher may organize story telling in class base on the book that they read. The teacher can also use the corner to do activity during lesson such as reading lesson. Aside from providing mini library, teacher should provide a corner to be used for performing drama, public speaking or any other activities that require the students to perform. That corner can be decorated so that it will look like a performing stage. It is not crucial to have special stage because students can perform it in front of the class but it will be more exciting if they perform those activities in a specific and suitable place.
Cupboard also plays the main role in every classroom to provide easinest and benefit to students. Cupboard is used to keep the teaching and learning materials and also books so that the classroom will look more tidy and easier for teachers to find things that are related to the lesson being taught. In addition, cupboards in classroom can be beneficial for the students in that particular class. Teacher can ask the students to keep their workbooks in the cupboards if they are not given any works that require them to do exercises in the workbooks. So, it is more systematic to keep their personal workbook or things that they only use in class in a specific place so that they will not left it at home. It is a normal thing for primary school students to forget bringing their books to class and this can affect their learning on that particular day. Hence, the probability for them to left their books at home will be smaller.
The classroom’s walls also play greater parts in ensuring the effectiveness of the teaching and learning environment. The informations in the walls must be change from time to time so that the students will always be up-to-date. In order to make things easier, the class teacher can assign one or two students to find informations that they think interesting once a week. Most of the informations on the wall usually will be used during demonstrations or explanations. Thus, the teacher needs to avoid from overdecorating the walls with unuseful things such as flowers or ribbons. A classroom will be the students’ second home for at least a year. Consequently, it would be nicer to display their own works throughout the year. This will help in enhancing their intrinsic motivations and also their sense of belonging. Their self-esteem will also be increased upon seeing their works being appreciated by the teacher. They will love to do many other things. The walls in the classroom should also be used to paste art prints or visual materials such as maps. By displaying maps in the classroom, their general knowledge will be increased as the students will be eager to explore the maps during recess or whenever they are free. They will talk about the places in the maps and thus a healthy discussion between students can be promoted.
So, it is proven that types of classroom arrangement can influence the teaching and learning situation, positive behavioural, sense of belonging and also the ability to be independent. That is because when a classroom is managed well, an encouraging teaching and learning environment can be created and will lead to the lower disciplinary problems in the classroom. Thus, teaching and learning goals will be effective and successfully achieved.