Rows of desks
I want to say that there is a time and a place for every seating arrangement, but I am getting tired of rows.
We do different arrangements and I do like the individual desks in terms of being easily configurable. And although I like looking out at these smiling faces, I mostly find the arrangement uninspiring, both for myself and the students.
It conveys something essential about what happens in the classroom, regardless of the content that is being covered. I don't mind the idea of the teacher being the "sage on the stage" so much; what bothers me is the idea that rows impose a single educational experience on everyone, regardless of where they are in the learning process. Everyone is listening to the instructor, watching the same video, taking the same quiz.
Some people may be ready for that experience.
I would hazard to say that most, however, are either not ready for that experience or beyond that experience. It's like forcing everyone to go on the same amusement park ride, whether that person has been on it 100 times already or is too small to be held in by the safety bar.
In other words, this configuration ignores the reality of what students need at any given time. Sure, students can start on the assignment by themselves, ask for additional help, or just zone out, but this is all peripheral to the main educational experience, which is served up for everyone.
Some questions for you out there: Could the same be said about any arrangement that is used across the board, such as groupings, fishbowl, etc? Should the default setting of any classroom feature multiple modes and configurations? Teachers, what has this looked like in your classrooms?