5 Compelling Reasons To Move Around Your Classroom

How often do you move around your room? Do you stay on one or two spots in the class only?

Do you circulate and work the room just like when a host moves around in a party to talk to everyone?

Do you hang out primarily at the teacher’s desk and sit down and talk?

Do you see an imaginary line between you and the front seats in which there is an invisible barrier that prevents you from stepping over the line?

Circulation is one of the teaching strategies master teachers use according to Doug Lemov’s book, teach like a champion.

Move around the class.

The idea behind Circulation is that throughout your lesson, you should be strategically moving around your room.

Here’s 5 compelling reasons to do so:

1) To show the kids you own the room. Yup, it’s your class, not theirs. This is your universe and you’re in control of that universe. They are parts of that universe and they will comply with your rules. In other words, it’s part of classroom management, a critical component to master to become a great teacher.

2) By circulating and moving around, you show that you don’t only go to the students who are misbehaving and you want to stop the misbehavior.

You move because it’s part of how you teach. It’s all part of the package of being a teacher. 

 Classroom Control

By doing this, you show that the students don’t control any territory in the classroom. You control the territory.

Establish this early in the school year and your students will know they have no safe zone where they can evade your influence and control.

Everything is geared to learning. 

 3) You circulate to engage your students.

Engage them.  This keeps everyone on their toes and makes them focused on the task at hand.

When you move around, make frequent and nonverbal interventions. Did you see Aira making some spelling mistakes, tell her to check her spelling. Is Tom chatting with his seatmate? Tap him on his shoulder to remind him to get back to work.

Engagement also means positive reinforcement. So if you see them doing the right things, acknowledge it through positive feedback and nonverbal communication like a smile or a nod.

Little things go a long way. 

4) To show that you are not always predictable.

Predictable is boring. It does not enchant.

So when you move in your room, do it systematically yet in an unpredictable way. Do not follow the same pattern of movement all the time or else your students will figure it out.

5) Classroom Control

You demonstrate power when you move strategically in your room. Always remember to face as much of the class as possible.

You do know what happens when you turn your back on them. 

Try to face your class often.

According to Lemov, the most powerful position to be in with another person is one where you can see him, he knows you can see him, and he can’t see you.

That’s why sometimes standing at the back of the class where you can see everyone during a discussion builds a subtle yet pervasive control of the entire classroom.

BONUS Reason: Exercise 🙂

In the comments below, share your thoughts on circulating in your class.

How often do you circulate and how useful is this strategy to you? 

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12 Comments

  1. Great ways to show who’s boss in the classroom. Good tips.

  2. I usually try staying in the middle of the classroom. I spend time in front because the board is there and then I go but rarely at the back. It is easier for me to see my students because we have a small teacher:student ratio. I like moving because it keeps me from getting bored but I cannot move that much because I don’t want to disrupt my own class.

  3. yeah predictable is boring! back in college I remember some of my professors just sitting in their desk the whole class duration! some of my classmates are already sleeping at the back.. ;(

  4. A thumbs up for this post! I’m an actor-teacher in a classroom who circulates around the class. And putting myself as a student, I would prefer a lively or enthusiastic teacher — really. 😀 One good thing that I also sense when we go around and check students, is their all time presence. They won’t miss any single information when they’re focused.

  5. I used to be one of the most noisy in the class so when the teacher moves around that’s when I usually stop chatting with seatmates. I miss all my teachers seriously.

  6. Now I know why my teachers back then moved around so much.. was actually pretty nervous everytime a professor would take his rounds for the recitation! :))

  7. Now I know why my teachers back then moved around so much.. was actually pretty nervous everytime a professor would take his rounds for the recitation! 🙂

  8. “By doing this, you show that the students don’t control any territory in the classroom. You control the territory.”

    Students should know where they stand and never overpower their teachers. They should know their limitations.

  9. I am the kind of teacher who needs to move around that my subject head once commented that I should pause once in a while or else my students will get cramped necks from following my every moves. haha! Now, I’ve learned to calculate my movements.:)

  10. Great tips about proper teaching approach. Also, moving around keeps your students and class alive.

  11. Agree with this though as a student we get scared when the teacher walks around ad stay at the back haha 😀

  12. I’m the kind who doesn’t sit when discussing lessons. I move around as much as possible. This is why having that remote thing (i don’t know what it’s called! I’m too lazy to google hehe) for projectors is imperative if I want to become mobile in the classroom. Without that, I’d be stuck beside my laptop if I’m discussing with a PowerPoint presentation.

    Also, when proctoring exams, I always stay at the back of the classroom and moves around from time to time so I can see anything suspicious going on during exams 🙂

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