One of the things I don't like about having desks is that they are perfect for hiding little trinkets and doo-dads out of sight of the teacher. The narrow opening is just perfect for placing one's hands in to build origami stars, for cutting the paint off a pencil with scissors or for opening up a red pen to put the ink all over one's hands and pretend to be bleeding.
Yes. These are all things that can be done inside of a student desk.
With the students in rows, though, I can see their cute faces! I can see when they are looking at me or when they are preoccupied with other activities. And, they still have the opportunity to work in groups. They have a partner to work with (we have double desks) which wasn't affected by being in rows, and when they need to be in small groups, rows 1 and 3 turn around to partner up with rows 2 and 4. It actually works perfectly!
Funny enough, most of the kids like being in rows. Probably because it is a different look and it does give a different feeling to the classroom. A few students remarked that it was just like being in high school and they liked the opportunity to be treated like older students.
I won't keep the desks like this forever. One drawback to rows is that they tend to drift into one another and that is kind of annoying. They also seem to take up more space--and with a large class, I want my room to feel open. As we move into spring, though, I will have to pull out all the little tricks to keep my students focused and energized for learning.
So, will being in rows stop students from fiddling in their desks? Of course not. But it does make it easier to catch them!
What do you think about desks being in rows? Are you for or against it? Share your opinions here!