Monday, June 30, 2014

Go Big or Go Home: Why I Ditched My Teacher Desk....


"The key to this classroom, if you look, there is no teacher's desk in here. Desks are for sitting, and I'm not paid to sit," Esquith says.

Teachers need to stretch themselves to keep things fresh, to mix it up, and get a little out of that all too familiar comfort zone. I am still a new teacher, and I will say that I haven't slowed down since my career began a meager two years ago.

Right now, I'm about to start a new teaching position in a new school closer to home, and that change alone is a rather large stretch. Plus, I'm teaching three additional content areas beyond what I'm used to teaching, not just ELA and reading, but also math, science, and social studies. Again, another stretch.

However, I love the philosophy of Kate White, author of the book, I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. She states, "To me, a gutsy girl is willing to go big or go home. Often, that means doing not exactly what you've been told to do, but do a little bit more."

With this thought process in mind, what is one clear way that I can "Go Big" this upcoming school year?

To me, the teacher desk is the answer. Get rid of the desk.

I think desks risk becoming crutches for teachers, and also a bit of a worry. Teachers exclaim, "Oh the principal caught me at my desk! What if I'm in trouble?" So, why not get rid of the worry?

Beyond the politics of whether it is appropriate to sit at the teacher desk during the school day, I also will point out that two of my favorite and dearest educators don't use desks in their classrooms.

  1. My mother-- My mom is one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever known. She actually changed her bulletin board daily, just to entice her students into the lesson she was going to present. Her students would try and peek into her classroom just to get a glimpse of her board, "What is the lesson about today?" they wondered. They could barely stand it! My mom had her teacher desk for just a couple years when she realized, "This big clunky thing is just taking up my teaching space. It's outta here." The custodians cautioned my mother that she would never see a desk in her classroom again. She responded, "Good riddance." She never missed it.
  2. Rafe Esquith-- Rafe is a mentor to all teachers. He spends every minute totally engaged with his students. He doesn't want the distraction of a desk. "The key to this classroom, if you look, there is no teacher's desk in here. Desks are for sitting, and I'm not paid to sit," Esquith says. Rafe is up on his feet connecting with his students. He's not staring at his computer, checking e-mail, or planning tomorrow's lesson. He's engaged with the kids.
Now, this is one way in which I am stretching myself for the new school year. I've got plenty of space to stay organized and keep files, etc. But, I feel that this decision will keep me on my toes, and focused in the right ways. I stopped in my classroom today, and it was gone. "Wow, this is it. Go big or go home."

So, fellow teachers, I'd love to know, what is one way that you are stretching yourself for the upcoming school year? How can you "Go Big" this year?

Check out the artcle on Rafe Esquith at

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thank you so much! Glad your desk is gone, and know you will find creative and attractive ways to store all the stuff that usually goes in there. I am confident that as you stretch this year, you will achieve success!