When I taught kindergarten, there was no question about what kind of student seating I'd have. All of the kindergarten classrooms I've ever been in have had tables for the students. In fact, I wasn't even asked if I wanted something different. We had round tables and that was that.
I've been in third grade for a few years now and I've tried all kinds of seating arrangements...
desks in groups
desks in pairs
rows of desks
Then I realized that half of my behavior problems were a direct results of desks... playing around in them, hiding forbidden objects in them, etc. Plus, after about 3 weeks of school, the kids start treating their desks like a personal trashcan. DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!
So two years ago, I ditched the desks and went back to tables like I had in kindergarten.
My room looked like this:
This was the arrangement I had for two years. It was MUCH better than desks! There was nowhere for the kids to hide things, no missing work that was discovered crammed into the back, no fiddling around inside. But the round tables did present a few challenges.
First, the kids were always in each others' faces. It was great for group work, but sometimes you need them to work independently. Round tables makes that hard. During tests, it was nearly impossible to keep their eyes on their own papers.
Second, the talking.... oh, the talking! If you want a noisy class, get round tables. I personally don't do well with a lot of noise (which is why I high-tailed it out of kindergarten as soon as I could). So this seating arrangement ended up driving me nuts most of the time.
Third, because you have kids facing every single direction, it's hard to limit distractions. There is always someone else to make eye contact with, always something interesting to look at, and no matter where you stand, half of your students will be facing a different direction.
So this year I wanted something different, but NOT DESKS! The answer came to me as I was moving furniture around at the end of the year. Why not just use a bunch of long tables?
So far this is the best arrangement I've ever had. Everyone is facing front, but they all have a shoulder partner. If I want groups, I have the first and third rows turn around to face the rows behind them.
You can see there is a desk at the end of each row. That was necessary because of the number of kids. But if you look closely, you'll see that those desks are turned around backwards. That eliminates the problems with trash/hiding things/messing around.
This arrangement also makes it really easy to move seats if I have to. With desks, you have to either move the desks along with the kids or clean them out and move all their stuff. There's none of that with tables. I just say, "You move here and you move here." Problem solved.
One other reason I really like tables more than desks (and this is kind of OCD of me)... desks get shuffled around during the day. No matter how many times I straighten them, the desks end up looking all crooked within a few minutes. Tables stay put for the most part which makes my obsessive little brain sooooo happy.
Now if you're wondering where the students keep all their books, papers, pencil, etc., you'll have to wait. My next post will talk about some of the storage options when you don't use desks. Until next time...