Optimal Learning Spots

Students making choices to optimise their learning time.


Students are seating themselves on the floor ready to begin a lesson or discussion. Two students are not allowed to sit together, one has to sit in the square taped on the floor and another has to be seated at the teachers feet because they are inattentive and constantly interrupt.

Who’s doing the thinking and decision-making in the classroom – the teacher or the students?

Try This:

Before staring a lesson allow every student to make the decision and choose where to sit for Optimal Learning. Remember we are creating a classroom culture of thinking, decision-making and problem solving.

Write on the board, display on your interactive whiteboard or hold up a sign saying:Robyn_sign

Please choose your Optimal Learning Spot – thank you (add a smiley face).

Explain Optimal Learning Spot – Optimal means the absolute best you can. You must choose the best spot for yourself to sit that allows you to see, listen, and respond effectively.  It may be at the front, at the back, in the middle, on the side – you will know.  It is a personal decision for you.  It is important to be good to your self, to look after your self so you can get the most out of the teaching session.  I will give you three seconds to choose your Optimal Learning Spot, 1,2,3. Start your lesson.


  • Students learn that making choices makes a difference.
  • Students become empowered to make a decision.
  • You have a reason to challenge a student’s inappropriate behaviour if they interrupt while you are speaking to the class.
  • Some students may choose to sit on a chair brought to the floor seating area or sit at their table. Let this happen. They have made a conscience decision to choose an Optimal Learning Spot.


  • If you want all the class to be seated on the floor add this to your Optimal Learning Sign.
  • What happen if someone interrupts? Say, I see you have not chosen you OLS, get it sorted now please. Wait till they move, it might only be a reluctant shuffle, that’s enough for you to say thanks for making a good decision for yourself, then stretch over and shake their hand. That way they haven’t lost face in front of the rest of the class because you have acknowledged the move and the decision with a thank you and a handshake.
  • Every time the class meets for a teaching or discussion session hold up the OLS sign or have a student hold it for you. Do the 3 second count then start you lesson. This shows you value the idea and are prepared to trust your students to make their own decisions.
  • Use a hand signal to represent the message ‘select your Optimal Learning Spot’. Make a small ‘o’ shape with your thumb and first finger and show students. This is a very quick and easy to use.
  • Optimal Learning Spots empowers students to think about, and make a worthwhile decision for choosing to sit in a certain area. Students are making a conscience choice that shows care for themselves and making a commitment to being the best learner they can be.