Classroom Space

You may not have much say in where you will teach, but it can still be a useful exercise to envision the ideal classroom space for your course. It can also be helpful to think through how to best work with the space you’re given.

When selecting your teaching strategies, it’s important to consider the physical layout, characteristics, and overall design of the classroom space. At many institutions, including Georgetown, instructors may request particular classroom characteristics, features, and locations from the Registrar. Sometimes, you can request that your class be held in different rooms on different days of the week, which allows you to schedule activities around each room's specific qualities.

  • If your course will be centered around discussion, you may prefer a space where desks can be put in a circle or where chairs are set up around a conference table, so that students face one another as well as you.
  • If, on the other hand, lectures are going to be the focus of the class, you’ll want a space where everyone has a good view of the front of the room.
  • Some classrooms lend themselves more readily to reconfiguration than others. If you wish to use a variety of teaching strategies, such as lecture, small group work, and round table discussion, you’ll probably want mobile or modular desks/chairs and the space for instructor and students to move around.
  • If you require in-class collaborative work, it’ll be helpful to get a space where the students can easily reposition themselves as needed.
  • However, you shouldn’t give up on small-group activities even in fixed-seat or tightly-packed arena classrooms; students can still work with those immediately beside and behind them, or they can move if necessary.
  • You’ll also want to consider your technological needs, though bear in mind that almost all the classrooms at Georgetown are “smart” classrooms with computers and overhead projectors. It’s a good idea to become acquainted with the equipment before attempting to use it in a class session. However, if you run into trouble during class, you can call Classroom Educational Technology Services at 202-687-0131.

You may need to make some adjustments to your teaching style in response to the classroom space.

  • If you are used to teaching a small, seminar-style class but find yourself assigned to a high-enrollment class in a large room, you will need to get used to projecting your voice further and to making eye contact with students in far-flung corners of the room.
  • If it happens that your class is scheduled to be in a larger space than it requires, you may ask students to sit in one area of the room, such as the first few rows or one side of the aisle. This also makes it easier, if you like, to get everyone into a circle.

Georgetown Professor Nathan Hensley on making the most out of the classroom you've got.

Please reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu if you'd like to have a conversation with someone at CNDLS about these or other teaching issues.