I did it!  I’ve been thinking about it for years (like 7 years) and I finally decided to get rid of my teacher desk!

The idea first came to me at a Responsive Classroom workshop where one of the lead teachers talked about how he gave up his desk and gained more space for his students.  Then I saw other testimonials, if you will, from other teachers who gave up their desks and loved it.

But it’s a huge move.

First I had to get rid of all the stuff inside every drawer!  The files were easy.  I was able to shove the hanging files into another filing cabinet in my room and along the way I got rid of some folders that hadn’t seen the florescent light in years.

I then went to the small boxes and bins of things that lined my drawers: a basket of stamps, a coffee can of magnets, a basket of stickers – those I straightened out and put in a cabinet.

Binders, baskets, boxes and even Beethoven have a home in this cabinet!

Then there were all the hoarded office supplies: pads of paper, sticky notes, pens, paper clips, staples, more pens, more staples, rubber bands, pens, more staples, four staple-taker-outers (really?), another box of staples… you get the idea.  I took all those things and put them with my official stash of class supplies in a cabinet.  That way, it’s all in one place.  And if I have to walk 20 seconds to get a row of staples, that is ok. 😉

There was quite a bit of miscellaneous stuff.  A bunch of junk made it to the trash can, some pens got put in a cup, a lonely Jolly Rancher made it into my mouth, a penny here and a thumb tack there – all taken care of.

And then there was the big move.  Mike, our custodian came, lifted the monstrosity with his desk jack and took it away.   Ahhhh….  space.  🙂

There’s no doubt you have to do this drastic deed when the spirit moves you.  You must be in a purging/organizational phase.  I was there.  It was the second time I had visited my room at the end of summer break and the room was a disaster.  All the furniture was out of place, student desks and chairs were stacked up high and there sat my big, clunky teacher desk in the wrong spot.  (I have to wonder if they put it in the right spot, would I have made the decision I did?)

But even as I was cleaning out the desk, I had my doubts.  “Will I miss it?  Will I regret this?  Will I have enough space?  Will I need it back in a couple of weeks?”  But I kept telling myself. I will just adjust to it and make it work.  *breathe*

My new computer set up - no clutter.

That’s when I remembered that I had a ton of stuff that I always kept on top of my desk.  Oh, boy – more work.  So, little by little I went through the things I usually put ON my desk – including my computer and printer.  I put those on a smaller rolling table along with a cup of pens and pencils.  The tape dispenser, stapler and three-hole punch went in a centralized location for all to use.  The binders, folders and notebooks I kept on my desk went into a, wait for it, book shelf for easy access.

I was quickly realizing this wasn’t so difficult after all.  With everything slowly finding a new home, I was beginning to enjoy my newly discovered freedom in NOT having a desk.

Let’s face it, the last few years, it was quickly becoming a clutter catcher.

I think my desk threw up on this day back in January of 2012.

 My hope is that will not be the case (so much) this year.

I guess you could say that I warmed up to this idea a year or so ago when I decided to take desks away from my fourth graders.

And what used to be clutter collectors and paper jamming holes, became a shelf for our classroom student reference books.

Not having desks used in the traditional manner is quite freeing:

  • If I need to change student seats on a whim, all the students need to do is get up and move to a different seat.
  • Even the monthly or seasonal whole-class desk change is so easy – I just gather name tags and redistribute.  No more wretched sound of desks being dragged across the room!
  • As the year progresses, I invite students to come in and choose their own seats.  They love that!
  • No more Friday desk cleaning time!
  • Clutter is kept to a minimum.  Since there is only so much space in a cubby, kids are forced to only keep the essentials.
  • A teacher’s inspection of students’ belongings is quick.  All I have to do now is walk the line of cubbies, see which ones need some help and fix it up in no time at all.

I highly recommend considering this change.  I am, by no means a neat freak or a minimalist.  Don’t get me wrong, I love things to be tidy around me and am calmed by clear open, organized spaces, but that is just not my reality all the time.

This probably doesn’t even have to be a beginning of the year thing either.  You could do it days or weeks into the year or make it a classroom project or challenge.

So, now I really want to hear from you!

Have you also taken the traditional concept of the desk away from your students or yourself?  Or have you considered it?  Or can you not even think of such a crazy idea?  I would LOVE to hear from you!  What are your thoughts on the use of desks in the classroom?  Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

(Reading this in an email?  Go HERE to add a comment.)

~EMP

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