How to Future-Proof Your Classroom Desks

There are rumblings that the traditional classroom desk may be becoming obsolete. Smith System offers a variety of shapes and styles to future-proof your classroom desks.

Instead of rectangles or squares, our collaborative classroom desks feature trapezoids, arcs, modified hexagons and pie wedges. This way students can work together in compact spaces that still allow for teacher instruction.


Once viewed as a static, immovable work surface for a student, classroom desks are quickly evolving into a critical contributor to the learning environment. The shapes and functionality of the desks help students engage with teaching styles that foster collaboration and teamwork. To make these arrangements successful, desks need to provide ample workspace and be designed for a long life of use without adding gimmicky classroom furniture clutter.

The ideal classroom desk provides a large workspace for school supplies, books and a computer or tablet. The desk should also be durable, cost-conscious and comfortable to sit at. Solid plastic and particleboard are the most common material choices for classroom desks. They’re both strong and affordable, and most come with a choice of finish color options.

classroom desks
classroom desks

While some teachers prefer to arrange desks in rows, other classrooms are using them in varying configurations for more collaborative work and team learning. Some of these configurations include grouping the desks into “pods” to encourage collaboration and socialization. Other classrooms are arranging them in E-shaped groups to create two smaller carpet areas for collaboration and making it easier for the teacher to move around the room and assist students.

The E-shaped desk setup is a great option for classrooms with limited space because it requires less floor area than traditional rows of desks. However, this arrangement may not allow all students to easily see the whiteboard or the front of the class.

One way to increase the collaborative space in a classroom is by using group desks with built-in whiteboard tops. These types of desks can be arranged in various configurations for group work, and some even have adjustable legs to accommodate students of different heights.

A study in Libya evaluated classroom desks using anthropometric data gathered for 120 female students in grades 6 and 7. The desk dimensions were compared to the student’s anthropometry through six equations that calculated acceptable ranges. The results showed that the desks were not suitable for most students, with seat height, backrest height and under-surface of desk height being too high for the majority of the students.


Student desks are available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Today’s Classroom offers a large selection of classroom desks for students from elementary school through high school. Options include open front book box desks, which feature a rectangular top and an open book rack underneath to store books, notebooks and binders. Junior executive desks have an expanded desktop with a built-in book storage area, and group learning desks have trapezoid-shaped surfaces that allow students to work in pairs or teams.

Regardless of their style, student desks should provide plenty of space for writing and working on homework and projects. Students should be able to fit their laptop or tablet comfortably on the desk, and the surface should be large enough for students of all sizes to work on. When purchasing a classroom desk, teachers should consider the needs of their students and the type of instruction they’re providing.

When considering the shape of classroom desks, it’s important to understand how they’re used in a typical educational setting. Some desk arrangements do well in one type of learning environment and not in another, and this can have a big impact on how students are engaged throughout the day. For example, classroom desks in a row may make it difficult for students to see the teacher or their classmates during class discussions. Conversely, a small u-shaped arrangement is ideal for whole-class discussion and allows students to see each other during collaboration activities.

In addition to the standard rectangles, squares and octagons, Smith System also offers collaborative student desks in trapezoids, arcs, modified hexagons, pie wedges and wings. These innovative shapes enable groups of students to work together in compact spaces and still be easily accessible by the classroom teacher.

Collaborative classroom desks aren’t just for classrooms — they’re also often found in common areas, libraries and media centers. These types of flexible, portable desks encourage impromptu meetings and teamwork between students and foster a more collaborative culture in the classroom. These styles of desks can be found in many different colors and materials, and they’re designed to stand up to rigorous use, even in a high-traffic environment.


The functionality of classroom desks goes far beyond providing a work surface for students. They must also support the curriculum and learning methods that teachers choose. This is why we offer a variety of student desk shapes, allowing multiple solutions for classrooms and curricula of every kind and budgets of every size. We even have modular collaborative student desks in a multitude of shapes, allowing pairs and individual students to adapt to different classroom activities.

Most of our desks have a storage area underneath the desktop that can hold books, notebooks, pencils and other school supplies. Some of the storage options are a simple open book rack while others have a wire basket or other type of storage. Most desks also come with a chair or can be paired together to make a group collaboration desk. They come in a variety of shapes including trapezoids, arcs and modified hexagons that fit together to form groups in compact spaces.

Some classrooms may use tables instead of traditional desks for group discussions and activities. We have many different styles of tables available that are perfect for any classroom from elementary school to university level education. They are easy for one person – teacher or custodian – to move around for cleaning or classroom rearranging. Some of the tables have storage space in the table frame that can be accessed by the students while other styles have an open front desk to allow for more personal space and easy access to school materials.

Sitting all day at a desk can contribute to lethargy and distraction, which can lower student focus and performance. We have a number of different sit-to-stand student desks in both stationary and mobile styles to help reduce discomfort and improve concentration. Students can also choose to stand for part of the day at their traditional classroom desk, which is ideal for certain subjects like science and art classes where students need more room to spread out.

Desks are not only limited to classrooms; they can be found in common areas, media centers and hallways as well. We have mobile tablet arm desks that are ideal for these areas, where idea sharing and impromptu group meetings may occur. We have also designed a large multimedia desk that can be used to store technology and AV equipment and easily move around the classroom for presentations.


In addition to the desk surface, students need a place for books and supplies. School desks offer a wide variety of storage options, including open front book-box styles and combination student-teacher desks. Some also include a pencil tray and slot for water bottles. Lockers are another classroom storage option that can be secured to the floor to help keep everything neat and organized.

Students must be able to access their stored materials without disrupting the learning environment. That’s why the style of classroom desks should be designed with functionality in mind, not just for aesthetics. For example, a tip-up design requires rummaging through the desk to find items and can create frustration for students who are already distracted by a messy work area. Instead, a slide-out storage solution allows the user to reach inside without shifting materials and can help prevent accidental spills on students.

Group learning is essential to classrooms and helps develop collaborative skills in students. Desks that allow for collaboration can be pushed together or in a horseshoe shape to accommodate groups of students and allow them to talk with each other about their projects and assignments. Similarly, a teacher can pull groups together to deliver mini-lessons and help students in small groups practice new skills.

Some of the most versatile desks are made with a separate desktop and chair. These types of desks are great for non-traditional lesson plans that call for more collaborative learning or roving teachers. The separate seat and desk surface allows for more flexibility to shift seating around the room, saving space while also opening up workspace for new learning experiences.

While laptops have replaced many traditional classroom tools, a student desk is still needed to provide a flat surface for students to take notes and complete their written assignments. With so many different styles of classroom desks, it’s important to choose the one that meets the needs of your students and learning program. The right desk can help students stay focused on their lessons and make the most out of their educational experience.

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