A Teacher’s Footprint

Today’s topic is my Desk. Or lack thereof.

See, I don’t have a desk. Or at least not in the traditional sense. You know what I mean when I say desk right? I mean I’m a teacher, don’t all teachers have desks? They range from super-messy to ultra-neat, cluttered to organised. And most teachers have them. But I don’t.

I decided to get rid of my teacher desk about 2 and half years ago. Actually, come to think of it, I’ve just about taught for longer without a desk than with a desk (just). It all started from a comment my principal at the time made. He asked us to think about the teacher footprint in the classroom.

It’s a really interesting question, and as a beginning teacher it took me a year or two to act on it, but it definitely stayed with me. Slowly over a year or two, I started downsizing my desk, making it smaller and smaller and smaller until I had a desk just the same as every other student.

This year I moved classrooms, and it provided the perfect opportunity to do away with anything even resembling a teacher desk. Now I have a resource cupboard and that’s pretty much it. Everywhere else is shared space with my students. And best of all it works.

Of course there are a few things that I needed to put in place in order to make this work though. The first is good organisational systems. I have a whole lot of plastic boxes which are labelled with different curriculum areas or administrative tasks that I use to sort out physical resources. I set 5 minutes aside every couple of days to file all the paper and other bits and pieces that seem to build up in the classroom.

The second is digitising most of what I do. We use Google Apps for Education at school and it is fantastic! The teachers have been using it for the last year and half, and the students are due to go live next week. It’s awesome to have access to my resources wherever I am – plus way less paper!

The third is being flexible with where I work. I’m like my students in a lot of ways, I don’t really like sitting down at a desk to write or work. I prefer to be able to move around, which works well when I have no desk. During the day I don’t usually have down time to just sit and do work, but on the rare occasion that I do, I just sit at a free space with the students. A comfortable computer chair that supports my back is my only concession to teacher space as my back tends to play up sitting in the students’ chairs. In the afternoons you can usually find me with my work spread out across several of the students desks.

All in all I have to say, it’s really worked for me getting rid of a dedicated “teacher space”. I really like sharing my space with my students and it has helped me to connect with them in a much more informal way.

So my challenge to you is this: think about how much space you need in the classroom. How much space in your classroom is “teacher space”? Do you need all of that space? Are there ways you could reorganise things so that there is more shared space with students?

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