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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

The Power of Seating Arrangements in Facilitation

[#facilitation + seating arrangements] Spot the difference in the photos: before, mid, and then after. In day 2 of 4 of my workshops Egypt this week, I tried out various seating arrangements and noticed details in how this shifted the energy and engagement of the room.

I used to think if I wanted to move the tables or rearrange a classroom or space, I had to do it myself. I used to try and move everything before the participants or learners arrived, hoping that the numbers were right for table sizes.

There were a couple of problems with that:

1: It used to make me tired, whether I admitted it or not at the time.

2: It used to make the participants and staff feel uncomfortable if they saw me moving furniture around.

3: I kept having to decline offers to help. All of them wanted to assist but I felt it was more straightforward to do it myself.

These days, I enlist the help of everyone in the room. With some guidance and modelling, I am finding that in this instance, many hands really do make light work.

It goes like this:

I ask everyone to move to the edge of the room.

I give them each a group name.

I show them a demo set up.

I assign areas to each group.

When I say go:


Everyone shuffles to shift their own chair/desk.

One day I’d love to get a video of this happening and then speed it up to see the changes, because it is kind of special, the before and after.

Today I tried groups (photo 2), and then a semi circle (photo 3). You can see how both of those were big changes from photo 1, with rows.

Being a group of Early Years teachers, we used a semi circle for the second phase of the workshop to recreate a sense of “circle time”. If you know, you know. 😁

Do you ever change the seating in your lessons, workshops - mid session?

As long as the group is not too big, it can be a quick way to bring a physical and social change of perspective to participants or learners, depending on your session aims and goals. Teachers, facilitators, and even if you are more of a participant - I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Over and out - for now. :)

P.S. big thanks to Mohamed Mahmoud Abdulazeem, the #EarlyYears teams & Ms Mai at St.Fatima School - Nasr City for helping make today so very smooth for me as a visitor. I have never experienced such amazing printing facilities (e.g. how to win a trainer’s heart). Wishing you all the best with using your Cambridge University Press Education #Resources this upcoming year. 🙌💛

Final photo: me and Hydro, getting ready for the session today. #carpediem!

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