Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Desk or No Desk?

At the end of the school year, my class collectively gave me a gift card to I loved this, as I can get a variety of things, not only for myself, but for my classroom as well. One of my purchases was Of Primary Importance by Ann Marie Corgill. I've been wanting to read this for quite a while, thanks to the recommendations of two of my First Grade colleagues, Cathy (of Reflect and Refine) and Deb (of Primary Perspective.)

It finally arrived this week! I've had a hard time dividing my reading time between a library book on my Kindle, a book for pure pleasure that I've had on my nightstand since last summer (yikes! that's how little time I have for pleasure reading,) and this professional book. I finally dived into Of Primary Importance today and am having a really hard time putting it down. (And that's saying a lot because that has never happened to me in regards to a professional text.) I read something addressing a topic that I have been struggling with for a couple of years and just had to respond.

Do I keep my teacher desk or get rid of it?  I've always used it as a "home base" in my classroom. A place where I plan my lessons, check emails, and keep my supplies. But, do I really need it taking up space in my First Grade classroom, which already feels claustrophobic as it is? Cathy and Deb have both banished the teacher desk from their classrooms. They've said they'd never go back to it. Ann Marie says, "If a large part of the room is filled with a teacher desk, teacher chair, teacher filing cabinets, teacher corner, then there's little space left for the students to move and work in comfortably." Further, she says, "I don't want to send the signal to my students that my needs and my work and my comfort is more important than theirs, and if my area takes up a quarter of the room, then that's exactly the message I'm sending."

In my building, once you get rid of a piece of furniture, you'll probably never get it back again. There's minimal room for storage, so if it doesn't fit, they ship it offsite to a storage facility somewhere else in the district where anyone can claim it. So, once I decide to get rid of it, I've committed to it being gone for good. There is no going back. This isn't a decision I can take lightly. 

So, readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have a teacher desk or don't you? What are the pros and cons to getting rid of your teacher desk? 


  1. I agree with Ann Marie's "equitable real estate" philosophy, so my teacher desk is really small -- a small computer table with a rolling three-drawer plastic unit from Target that sits under one end and serves as desk drawers. I have a file cabinet tucked up against one of the built in cupboards, and I have a bookshelf for professional books and TEs/binders/etc. I can't imagine NOT having a place to put my stuff in the classroom. That said, I never take up prime real estate with my desk/shelf/file cabinet. I am NOT one of those teachers who hogs the one window in the classroom for her desk area.

    I'm getting ready to set up my new 5th grade classroom, and it's going to be a challenge -- besides the fact that it's a smaller center room, the power outlets are not in ideal locations for keeping my desk out of the way and out of the flow.

    This is a very thought-provoking question. I can't wait to hear what others have to say.

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  3. Thanks for your comment. A smaller desk and smaller rolling cart is a great compromise.

  4. As you know from "living with me", I got rid of my desk many many years ago. I have never missed it. I usually find a small table to work at in the morning before the students arrive. I sit down to the same computer space they do. I have a small set of stackers I use to store stuff I might need, but honestly keep thinking that needs to go away too.

    Getting rid of the desk was something I was happy to do. I can't really imagine where one would fit anyway. I think the trick is thinking how do you use your desk now? What will you miss? Where will you keep the things you need from there? Where will you work during plan time?

    Getting rid of my desk was something I did for me. It was a good decision for the way I work. I don't think everyone would be happy without one. That's a decision we all have to make for ourselves.

    Now I'm wondering, what will you do with all of your extra space. **wink wink** Let the furniture rearranging begin....


  5. I got rid of my desk years ago. What I've found works best for me is to use a cabinet and set up a few shelves as a desk-type area. Not so it at but to keep things, file things, etc. I use plastic paper trays as well as some supply containers and just set up the shelf with the things I need just as I would a desk. Then I sit in various places int he room to work. It has actually worked out because since I work in different places, I get a better sense of how the kids use/see the work spaces, etc.I will probably never go back to having a desk other than a small place to put my laptop.

  6. Carolyn~
    Well, you know I haven't had a desk in years. I have never looked back and like Cathy I can't imagine my space with a desk. I work (as Franki says) where there kids work. (It is nice to make sure you have a few wipes on hand.) I do have an "area" where I can lay the various papers I get and my tech tools, but as for everyday supplies I use what the kids use right out of their caddies!
    Desk or no desk is a personal decision. I do know a teacher who removed her desk and inadvertently created a "teacher area" much like a desk but with a dinning room table! Not sure she made the real-estate any more equitable. LOL

  7. Thanks for your comments and input. I did decide to remove my teacher desk. Now, I'm just waiting until I can get into the building and start with the rearranging.

  8. Hi Carolyn,
    Looks like I got here too late, but I applaud your decision. In the past 18 years, I have gown without a desk and love it for several reasons. Most importantly, more room for students to learn. But I also agree with franki - getting out into the room makes me understand the space kids do have in different ways. Good luck with your desk-less year!