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September Snapshot: Bye Bye Teacher Desk

Lauren Heimlich Foley

Last year, I found myself traveling between three different rooms after nine years of having my own classroom. With increased enrollment and a school too small to handle one classroom per teacher, I braced myself for the challenge and welcomed the change.

What I experienced shocked me: I loved moving around the building. I got to see more people, tried out different flexible seating arrangements, and learned the importance of traveling light. Most days I only moved with a backpack that held my laptop, water bottles, snack, YA novels, and clipboard. Our district’s one-to-one laptop initiative and wireless projection boards helped make this nomadic teaching style work.

Even more shocking: I realized that I no longer used a teacher desk. I carved out space in my apartment for my professional books and left a container in my car with school supplies. In each classroom, I had closet space for necessary materials and a shelf for a class library. On my prep and after school, I did my work at a student desk, in the library, or in our traveling teacher office.

This year, I am sharing a classroom with another teacher. We worked together over the summer to set up our flexible seating, bringing in a small kitchen table, a donated library table, two rugs, a handful of pillows, a high-top table and stools, short stools, and wobbly stools. It is a menagerie of furniture. We love the room, and our students are enjoying the seating.

The layout would never have been possible if we kept the two teacher desks we found waiting for us. Although we immediately got rid of one, I suggested getting rid of the second. Once we realized that the flexible seating would not all fit if we kept even one teacher desk, we decided to have both removed.

Since starting the year, I have not missed the teacher desk once. Not only was it an eyesore in the past with papers and books piled high, but it took up so much space. I never sat at my desk during class, so I am not looking for it during instruction. Whole-class directions and mini-lessons are taught from any open seat in the room, and I do have a stool that I like to use for conferencing. At the end of the day, I sit in my favorite spot in our classroom: a desk that overlooks our courtyard. It has a great view of a tree, waterfall, and pond.

Getting rid of the two teacher desks in our classroom was the best decision of September! Our room is more student centered and feels larger. I enjoy facilitating the learning that happens there. Moreover, our classroom reflects the fact that we are all readers and writers within our workshop.