To Group or Not to Group?

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Now that we are done with our five days in the computer lab, it’s back to the classroom.  Some students noticed that the desks, which had been arranged in groups the first week of school, had been placed in rows for Back-to-School Night to accommodate all the parents who rotating in and out of the small space for their eight-minute class periods. 

We quickly moved the desks back into groups for our purposes, but I have to say, there’s a real place in my heart for rows.  I wrote a poem about school seating when I was monitoring Saturday School a few years ago.  You can read it here, and then I’d love to hear what you have to say about the subject of desks and seating charts at school.  What works for you, students?  Adult visitors, what are your memories of your preferred seating options at school?  Any particularly good or bad experiences associated with where you had to sit in a class?  Comments welcome!

Poem for My Eighth Grade Self

I like a sturdy desk,
One that doesn’t rock.
I want to be able to move in it, use it, solid and sure.

And I want it to be in a row.

Not at the front, where I might be seen.
Not at the back, where I might also be seen.

Put me in the middle, just left or right of center,

And NO GROUPS.

Desks in rows anchor me–
Keep me in a defined place–
Approachable, yet not.

My desk is my space,
Perfect for doing my perfect schoolwork,
Then perfect for reading after my
Perfect math quiz or my perfect history test,

An island for my personal thoughts and daydreams.

Is that why I hated science?

Maybe it wasn’t the safety goggles and the frog guts–
Maybe it was the tables,
The sharing of space with other kids.

Yes, science had tables that facilitated
communication
collaboration
connection

All things I did not want.

Spanish had desks in rows, but it also had
partners
pairings
role plays and fake names…

No.

Give me my math desk instead,
With two pages of silent, independent work–

A math desk to offer
order
success
correctness

A math desk where I could sit
With homework complete, ten minutes left til the bell, and then

a leaning back
a slouching down
a private escape
into Anne of Green Gables