When I taught preschool at a daycare center, during my first official year of teaching, I had a big classroom with a large area where we could sit on the floor for circle time, in an actual circle.
Now, many years later, I am teaching preschool in a public school, in a very small classroom. Our meeting area is quite small (and doubles as the block corner during centers time), and there is no way to fit the class in that space in a circle. So I divided the space up into three rows, with room for 5-7 children in each row, and assigned seats. Seriously. Every child in my class has a spot on the floor where he/she knows to sit.
When I visit other classrooms, the teacher gathers the children together for story time or morning meeting or circle time or whatever they might call it, and the kids either sit in a big circle (where some are too far away from the teacher to see the book she’s holding, and some are sitting right next to her looking out across the circle so they too cannot see the book she’s holding) or they sit in a clump (where they fidget and fuss and elbow each other).
My kids, with me the control-freak as their teacher, are in perfect little rows, each with their own space. It works beautifully, even as I acknowledge how control-freaky I can be, because no one is sitting next to someone they like to chat with or fight with, and those who need to be near me are front and center so I can reach down and pat their knees, and those who need space are on the sides, and Miss L. is in the back corner so Ali can help her out if need be, and she can easily leave to “take a break” if she is getting overwhelmed.
Okay, so I’m ridiculous. But boy, does it work.