Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Decisions Series: Part 2 - The Teacher Desk

Many teachers, both in my school and in my extended network, have decided to get rid of their teacher desks.  Their reasons vary:  some of them have very small classrooms and want to maximize space for students; some of them prefer to sit at a classroom table to plan; some of them had really old desks that should have been retired ten years ago.  Whatever the reason, the teachers I know who have moved away from having a teacher desk are very happy with their choice.

I have decided to keep my desk.

There are some things I know about myself as a worker.  I need a space that is mine.  I need to have my materials around me, and I need to know where everything is.  I need to have a bright light, which helps me read without tiring my eyes.  I need a comfortable chair so that I can focus on getting my work done without my back aching.

So yes... I still have my desk.

But notice where my desk is... it's in a corner of my classroom away from my windows.  It's pushed up against the wall.  This is not a place to sit while students are in the room (unless they are having Spanish class, which means I have a plan period).  That little corner is the only place in the classroom that is truly mine.  Everything else is for the kids.

I know there are people who think I should get that mammoth desk out of the room and make the space available for my students.  And I get it... I do!  I could make another cozy reading nook there or I could fit two or three more bookshelves.  But I also know that the work I do planning for instruction is important as well.  If I am going to spend time carefully planning my whole- and small-group instruction, reading exit slips and other written assignments, considering formative assessments that will tell me what each student needs the next day, I need a place to do it.  If I am going to do this work in a timely manner that allows me to get home in time to drive my daughters to dance class and cook dinner for my family, I need a space where all of my materials are handy.  Just as I allow my students to find a "just right" place to do their work, I need such a space for mine.

For a while, I felt guilty about keeping my desk.  But after I spent time thinking about why I felt I needed to keep it, that guilt went away.  I strive every day to be the very best teacher I can be.  If having a few square feet of classroom space for my work helps me reach that goal, well... I'm okay with that.