The Saga of My Teacher Desk.
At the close of the last school year the decision was made that I would change rooms. The old room I was in was a computer lab with rows of fairly new tables designed for computers. It looked really nice for the casual observer; nice straight rows of tables, comfortable rolling chairs with a computer in front of each one. It looked great, but it didn’t work great.
The tables themselves contained conduit for all the cables for the computers. It made managing cables easy, but it meant the tables were locked in place. They couldn’t be moved to make a more convenient layout. When the kid in the far corner had a question, I could not get there to help. Literally. I couldn’t fit down the row with all of the students sitting at their work stations. You can imagine what it means to class management, much less instruction, when the students know the teacher can not get to a particular part of the room! So I jumped at the chance to move to a new room with tables that I can put anywhere I wanted.
I took the first step by sending my students to the new room to decorate it. They sorted through mountains of student work to come up with good exemplars, and arranged them on the walls to their liking. I kept authority over where the tables went, but the kids did everything else. They wanted me to tell them where the teacher desk needed to be. “Over by the phone” some said. “No, by the window would be better” said others. Finally I said to put it right where it is, in the old room.
I left the desk in the old room because I found that I spent too much time sitting at it. If I am sitting at my desk I am not helping kids with their work. To do that I need to be near their work, at the students’ work stations, not mine. It has been 7 weeks of being desk-less, and I can say my classes are much better. Kids are more engaged, in part I think, because I am more engaged. I do not have a desk to retreat to, so I am teaching by wandering around. I don’t miss the desk, but my feet are sure more tired!