Photo: Students in Dialogue

Arranging the Space

Photo: Lecture hall

Space is a vital part of creating an environment that fosters good dialogue. But most classrooms are designed for traditional lecture-style teaching. Some even have chairs that are bolted to the floor. So what do you do?

You may want the whole class in one conversation—in a big circle—or small groups of four or five students. You may want to find an alternative space for dialogue, in the library or the commons. Or you may send people outside the classroom for breakout groups.

In some cases, a dialogic moment may have to suffice. Ask just one question, give students a moment to reflect, and have them turn around to discuss the question with students in the row behind them.

There’s no right arrangement. There is only the arrangement that fits your purpose.

Want to use dialogue in your classroom? Bring Essential Partners to your campus or attend the EP summer faculty workshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.