So are you as tired as I am with the disgusting state of black holes that you have in your room called student desks. I was so although I wanted tables I went with those desks flipped around zip tied together. Had to take it slow in case I regretted it. Let me tell you I didn’t and it was the best decision I have ever made. Here are my top ten reasons why my students don’t need desks.
Top 10 reasons you should ditch student desks
10. No more disgusting black holes... I don’t know about you but many of my students used their desks as a place to shove anything and everything. You name it food, clothing, garbage, multiple pencil cases (not sure why a student needs three pencil cases but I digress), student books, text books, etc etc. By turning their stuff around they could no longer hide their junk they had to deal with it and actually put it where it belonged.
9. No more lost work…I don’t know how many times I would hand out a paper and ask them to put it in their notebook only to find that they didn’t and lost it. Valuable time lost having half your class trying to find their work during the next lesson. Or realizing three days before the test that the notebook they are to study from is empty. By flipping my desks student work was kept in Group bins organized by subject and table group. Each group worked together to hand out notebooks. Collect notebooks and keep bin organized. Sure occasionally a student lost their work but this new system greatly reduced that and often someone in the group knew where it was or helped to find it much quicker.
8. Teaches organizational skills…. With the mess unable to be hidden students had not choice but to keep organized no rewards needed for clean desks. No period a week lost on dumping a desk or me needing to give up my lunch to keep students in for making a mess. Life lessons early for students put it where it belongs so you can have it when you need it.
7. Goodbye hoarding…hello community… Students had to learn to deal with their stuff and to pair down on the hoarding tendency of some to have 3 pencil cases full of stuff they rarely used. This always drove me nuts the amount of money spent on school supplies at the beginning of the year which was lost, gone, or forgotten about by November. Now I inform parents and students that special supplies can be kept in the child’s backpack for art class or other special times. However students were encouraged to donate supplies to the classroom and to share pencils, rulers, erasers etc from a group bin.
6. A place to call your own…Sure they had an assigned space but student seating was far more flexible in my room. It always has been really. Often colleagues comment on how students are rarely caught sitting at their desks. This is true my thought is work where you are comfortable as long as you are working. This would be even better with tables I am sure as it allows for more flexible groupings.
5. Oops I forgot to collect that notebook…well with group bins picking up a group of books or returning them for that matter is easy. Walk over to the group bin and grab them. No need to rummage through each students desk at the end of the day. Saves time and effort.
4. More Community building… My students sit in groups from day one to day 194. The groupings rarely change except for a few students here and there. Students have classroom jobs and group jobs. The table leader delegates responsibilities to other to ensure the operations of the group are running smoothly and in an organized fashion. Sometimes a group gets this right and sometimes they struggle however this is a great learning opportunity to celebrate a team that is working well and to use as a model for how other should operate. A great life skill that they can all take into adulthood.
3. Books last longer... When notebooks are shoved in desks they rip bend tear and disappear. When they spend most of their time living in a box only used when the student needs it they last a lot longer. You replace them less and that saves everyone money.
2. I hate paper…ok so this may be just my personal vendetta against paper but what I couldn’t stand the most was the piles and piles of paper that I could see falling out of student desks or the piles of paper that I had to use to re photo copy daily. Perhaps this only created an out of site out of mind experience because I certainly didn’t use less but I didn’t see it which helped my teacher induced OCD.
1. Managing a well oiled machine… I am sure this whole idea of flipping around your desks sounds like a management nightmare. It does take a lot of rehearsal and structure to train student to this new system. However the work is WELL WORTH IT!!
Here is what you need to get this up and running in your classroom
A) groups of desks in 4-6
B) zip ties to keep those desks together
C) shelves around your room to store textbooks
D) square plastic file boxes one for each group
E) hanging folders for each subject
F) group bins one for each group
G) donated supplies (pencils, rulers, etc)
H) table leaders – elected monthly. They are in charge of collecting and distributing notebooks and textbooks from the group bin. Delegate other tasks as required.
I) deputy table leaders- assume the table leader role in the event of an absense. They also act as supply manager to keep group bin organized.
j) time… Make sure you give students time to hand out and collect notebooks during transition time.
Have you ditched your desks? What is your experience? willing to give it a try? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment and share your experiences.