What Are The Pros and Cons of Using Student Tables Instead of Desks?

Why this teacher decided to ditch her student desks halfway through the year.

What are the pros and cons of student tables instead of desks?

To try tables or not to try tables?  With all the buzz about flexible seating, this seems to be the burning question for a lot of classroom teachers. After weighing the pros and cons of tables instead of desks, I decided to make the switch in my fifth grade classroom. I was even brave enough to ditch the desks in the middle of the year!

Now we have a mix of rectangle and café style tables, and it’s been a great! Of course every day is not perfect, and I’ve had to put out a few fires along the way. However, I don’t regret the decision, and it’s been a pretty easy transition overall. Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve seen. Hopefully they’ll help you figure out if it’s the right choice for your classroom, too.



Collaboration is easier. 

Students are able to sit within close proximity to work together in small groups.

My classroom has more space. 

The tables create a lot more space then the desks did. This allows for other comfy furniture like bean bags and fun floor type chairs.

It’s easy to move things around.

The tables are much easier to move then desks. It’s a lot quieter too!

It forces my students to be more organized.


Students no longer have a desk to just throw things into. The tables have forced the students to put things away in their bins right away. There is only so much space, so they must make the decision if it’s something they need to keep, take home, or toss.

Now we have community supplies.

The sharing of supplies is better for several reasons. Kids don’t make a big deal out of what pencils or markers they have (everyone has the same). They’re also not spending half the lesson looking for a pencil in their desk. We have appointed table captains to make sure the supplies stay stocked.

Students don’t have a lot to mess around with. 

We don’t have a whole lot on the table besides the community supplies. So students no longer have those “trinket” type things they liked to hide in their desks and play with.

It’s easier to keep clean.

According to our custodians, the tables are much easier to wipe down than the desks, which means better cleanliness overall! It takes a lot less time, too!



There’s a lot more talking.

The tables create a lot more talking, which is sometimes productive and sometimes not. The noise level seems to have elevated since the tables have come.

Students don’t have a lot of storage.

The lack of storage is the toughest part, but as fifth graders, it’s also helping my students see the limited space that a locker will have next year in middle school.

Kids lose their personal space.

The biggest gripe from the students is the lack of personal space. Depending on who they are sitting with, they will complain that so and so is taking up “their” space.

We only have community supplies. 

Some students just want their own pencils, scissors and markers.It can also mean community germs, as well. Not all parents are a fan.

It’s harder to separate students when testing.

We recently took our state test, I found it harder to separate the students like you could with desks. We had to get creative and move kids around.

I have fewer choices in where to put students.

It is harder to come up with groupings that will work for everyone. With desks you could put together a group of two, three, four, etc. With tables, the least I can have is four in order to fit all students.