Student Desks for Modern Students
There was a time when purchasing student desks was a rather simple matter: The administrator in charge of purchasing for the school did a price survey, chose the best deal, and bought the desks, which were more or less standard. End of story.
Today, there are any number of options and features that come along with student desks. This is a great boon for the students, but things were much easier for administrators before the industry got so organized. Now there is a dizzying array of student desks out there to choose from, with each vendor displaying the advantages to each of their particular models.
There are, however, four basic things to keep an eye on that can simplify the task of purchasing student desks. When looking at a specific product, try to evaluate it in terms of strength, size, storage options, and style.
Student desk strength is measured mostly in terms of the desk top, which sees the most use (and abuse). This is important, because there are significant differences between student desk tops in terms of their ability to stand up to daily wear and tear. Of course, there is also a significant difference in price, with the cost per desk rising in direct proportion to its strength.
*The first kind of desk top is a laminate. You see these in many schools because they are the least expensive desk top around; however, they are also the least strong. They’ll stand up to light abuse like doodling, but will scratch irreparably if students go at them with sharp objects like scissors or compasses. If your school is going to buy laminate, make sure it is a high-pressure laminate, as that is the strongest kind.
*The second kind of student desk top is a hard plastic top. Admittedly, these are significantly more expensive - but keep in mind that they are worth their cost in terms of maintenance. Hard plastic tops are very easy to clean, and they are so strong that they’ll resist scratches from very sharp objects. They don’t crack, either, nor do they absorb spills.
*A middle ground between laminate and hard plastic has been created by Hertz Furniture with their innovative WoodStone tops. These tops are just about as durable as hard plastic, but since the manufacturing cost is lower, they cost around the same as a laminate.
As far as the rest of the desk, look for legs that have the lowest gauge steel. I know that sounds off, but with steel, the lower the gauge the stronger, so that 14 gauge steel is significantly stronger than 18 gauge. Check the glides, too, to make sure that whatever they’re made of (plastic, nylon or steel), they’re high quality.
A final indication of general student desk strength is the willingness of the manufacturer to stand behind its product. If a vendor is offering you a great price on a desk with a two year warranty, think twice before you purchase it. Student desks are a serious investment for schools, and the warranty should reflect a projected long-term use. Some manufacturers, such as Academia, offer limited lifetime warranties on their desks. That’s a sign of a serious company.
Next on the line is student desk size, which really refers to the amount of floor space the desk requires. Therefore, you need to ask yourself how big your classrooms are in order to know what size desk they can accommodate. Use the following guidelines::
*Standard size classrooms (approximately 850 square feet) – Standard, individual desks will fit just fine.
*Small classrooms (less than 850 square feet) - Consider double desks, which conserve on precious space (these also work well in schools that emphasize cooperative learning). You can also look at desk-chair combo units, which are economical on money as well as space.
*Large classrooms (more than 850 square feet) – You might want to invest in student desks with enlarged surfaces. These allow students to spread out their supplies, and can even hold laptops.
Once your students are seated at their desks, they need someplace to put their stuff.
That’s when storage options come in. There are three basic kinds of storage options for student desks::
*Wire baskets – These are under-desk baskets that are made of metal. They are fine for pencil cases and books, but not for loose pens and pencils. They do have a significant advantage, though, and that is that the teacher can see everything the students have stashed in their desks – no surprises.
*Book boxes – These are also under-desk, but are closed on all sides. They are made of either steel or plastic, and can hold both contained and loose school supplies. Some book boxes have built in pencil grooves so that all those writing instruments don’t go rolling around inside the box.
*Under/side of chair – If you’re using student desk-chair combo units, then make sure that the chair has a wire basket either underneath or on the side so that students will have access to their supplies despite the lack of under-desk storage space.
The final consideration for your student desks is style. Here you need to stop and ask yourself: What look do I want my classrooms to have? Are plain chairs and desks fine for me, or do I want a more upscale look? Student desks come in a variety of styles, from ordinary to contemporary to executive. Some student desks can coordinate with student chairs, such as the Inspiration line manufactured by Academia. These desks are uniquely shaped, as are the chairs, and the chairs and accents on the desks can be ordered in matching colors. If you’re looking for student desks that will color-coordinate with all of the furniture in the room – cabinets, shelves, teacher’s desk, etc. – then you might want to look at student desks manufactured by Educational Edge, as they offer you that option. The only limit on student desk style is your imagination, so make sure you know what look you want before you make any purchases.
One thing is certain, though. The amount of time and thought you invest in purchasing student desks will be well worth it. When students learn with furniture that is carefully chosen with their needs in mind, they learn and concentrate better. And that, in the end, is the real point of it all – isn’t it?
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