It was not so long ago that classrooms only had individual student desks. In fact, many teachers preferred that each child had their own space. As teaching changes, so too does the furniture in the classroom. Chalkboards are replaced with white boards, and white boards are replaced with Smart Boards. And, sometimes, whether a teacher prefers it or not, student desks are being replaced with group tables. Whether you long to have a room full of individual desks or a classroom filled with small tables, there are ways that you can make what you have available work for you.
The Great Debate – Desks vs Tables?
In a room with 25 or more students, desks can sometimes be more cumbersome than not. Thankfully, there are a couple of different ways that they can be arranged in the room to make the most of the space. The first option is to line them up in traditional rows in the center of the room. Keep in mind that while this will have all eyes facing the front of the room, it may not be the best option for group work. Consider your methods of instructions and the other small group areas around the room before you commit to this set-up.
The second option is to place the desks in small groups. Turn the fronts of the desks together and group them in sets of four to six students. The group size will depend on the available space, as well as the number of students in the class. Mix the students up in the groups based on their behavior and skill levels. In other words, all of the high-level readers should not be placed in the same group of tables while all of the low-level readers are placed in another. Balance each group of students to the best of your ability and remember that the make-up of the groups can change as needed. For testing situations, separate the desks to provide individual work space.
Small group tables typically hold between four and six students. The benefit to having tables as opposed to desks is that they tend to take up less room than individual desks do. The drawback to tables is that there is no way to physically separate students’ work areas from one another come test time. A solution to that is to use a privacy shield or other barrier that will allow students to stay focused on their own work. This is also helpful if students just need time to concentrate, free from distraction.
Arrange the tables around the room so that there is room for students to maneuver easily. Chairs should be able to be pushed out without difficulty and there should be a clear path to the door in case of emergencies. For storage, use desktop organizers, as well as, under the chair shelves or over the chair storage pockets. Students can then place their books and belongings in an organized area within reach, but that is out of the way of other students.
Different Seating, Same Great Instruction
Whether you have desks or tables does not really matter. Although your classroom set-up will differ depending on the furniture available, the same great instruction will take place, because you are the teacher. If you do not have the ideal classroom furniture, do not let it worry you. Your students will not remember the tables or the desks, they will remember all that they learned under your watch.