In my ‘Finest Hour’ post, I likened teachers to kings, queens, presidents, governors, and mayors.
Well, before anyone’s head gets too big, consider the throne of the proverbial classroom kingdom: the teacher’s desk.
I believe that the teacher’s desk is probably the most useless thing in the classroom. As the purveyors of student engagement, most teachers today find themselves estranged from their desks. They are often at a small group kidney or U-shaped table delivering differentiated instruction. Sometimes they are at a podium with a computer in order to present information on an interactive whiteboard. They can even be found carefully maneuvering between student’s desks, coaching, having conversations, and supporting individual students all day long. All the while, the teacher’s desk sits unoccupied in a corner taking up at least 16 valuable square feet of classroom real estate.
It’s important, when looking at the value of the teacher’s desk, to consider the culture within a school, however. In walking the halls and peering into classrooms, are the teacher’s like those previously mentioned? Or is the teacher’s desk the place of extended periods of lordly perching?
In these types of environments, the teacher’s desk is often serving more like a ball and chain than a throne. The teacher is bound to her desk, rather than actively engaging with her students. I mean, how effective is a principal that runs a school solely from his office?
I also sometimes think of television and movie characterizations of teachers, and in most cases, they are always seen waging classroom warfare behind their battle station, the desk.
Miss Shields in A Christmas Story is the quintessential lordly teacher. The only time she is seen out from behind her desk is when she ventures to the flagpole to rescue Flick from his “sticky situation”.
Just like we no longer place our teacher desks in the center of the front of the classroom, it may be time to consider doing away with them altogether. There are too many times when teachers must be up and actively engaged with their students, and it simply takes up valuable space.
Because I understand that completely abdicating a throne is not easy, We Are Teachers offers 5 alternatives to the teacher’s desk, instead of getting rid of it entirely.