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The traditional epicenter of the classroom may be losing some of its sway. Many teachers today are reportedly getting rid of their desks, saying the bulky objects distance them from their students and obstruct classroom interaction. There’s no research as yet on how many teachers are going without desks, but the movement appears to be strongest in charter schools. A number of charters have banned teacher desks outright in an effort to promote greater engagement with students. The idea of a teacher just sitting behind a desk “kind of makes me nauseous, actually,” says a founding teacher and administrator at one charter. Deskless educator Jason Kamras, the 2005 National Teacher of the Year, notes that what really matters is not whether a teacher has a desk but how he or she uses it. “Does the teacher sit at it all day? Is it the central element in the room?” he asks.


Share the Desk! An archaic remnant of administration, the desk has morphed into the learning center, laptop, smart board, overhead, etc.
In 1994, I delegated "the teachers’ desk" into a resource area. Our self-contained classroom at an opportunity school used the teachers’ desk as a resource/reference desk. Its offside location became the place for students to check papers, refer to the classroom references (huge ATLAS, THESAURUS, DICTIONARY, several art books) and tally reward points. It was a supply area for pens pencils, sharpeners, graph paper, floppy discs, acetates and overhead markers. Students brought in extra supplies and a found pen or pencil was put into the drawer for a later time. Extra paper was contributed to the "teachers" desk for those that needed.
Our classroom modality for learning was such that everyone became a teacher. Since everyone has experience & knowledge of something that someone else had never experienced, therefore they became a "teacher". Many of the students I worked with weren't good "learners". When they experienced being valued for something they excelled at (fishing, basketball, running, measurement, poetry, art, computer skills) and were recognized as the "go to" person for that skill, they morphed into "teachers" this potency and fulfillment of personal potential in turn made them better "learners"
While conducting a class to learn new standards or objectives after a brief intro and practice session. I would trade places with a student, sit in their desk and take their notes as they “taught” the class. Each student took their turn as they gained confidence in the subject matter
My personal teaching experience morphed into that of learner/teacher as well. The variety of learning processes of my various students enlightened me beyond Bloom’s taxonomy. I
I learned by sharing their role as a student and learned from them, they shared mine and became teachers and in doing so taught themselves how to learn better. Just by sharing a desk.

I too did not have a desk in my self contained MI class @ the middle school lvl. I originally did away with it due to space issues. I didn't use it and it was in my students way. I am now an inclusion teacher and have a desk in my "office" area. But in the classes I don't have a desk. I work w/the students so float around the classroom. I definitely liked L Sunny's description of what their desk "morphed" into. When I am in a single classroom fulltime again I will definitely keep this format in mind.

I personally use the desk to keep all the paperwork, booklets, etc. in their place. I believe that students stay on task much better when the teacher is up and walking within the class. I also take a seat among the students when one student is doing an oral presentation. So far it works well.

To desk, or not to desk? That appears to be the question. Personally, I need a desk to keep myself organized. However, I do not sit at my desk while I have students in my classroom. I teach AP English, AP US history, US history, and Alternative Education. If I have time to sit in my desk then I am not doing my job! An effective teacher must circulate, interact, and even give up the floor to her students when occassion calls. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when I address the volumes of paperwork, homework, and management detail that is required of any high school teacher (and I'm sure middle and elementary school teachers as well) I need my desk! The desk is like anything else in the classroom, a tool to enhance learning, not a place for a teacher to isolate himself or herself from the needs and demands of his/her students.

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Recent Comments

  • Joyce Garland: To desk, or not to desk? That appears to be read more
  • Juanita Magrans: I personally use the desk to keep all the paperwork, read more
  • M. Harwell: I too did not have a desk in my self read more
  • L Sunny Sullivan-Cuellar: Share the Desk! An archaic remnant of administration, the desk read more




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