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The Formative Feedback Project is a collaborative curation of best practices in educational strategies, ideas, resources. Specializing in student ownership, engagement, feedback loops and collaborative, effective feedback.

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Join the discussion at The Formative Feedback Project, a collaborative curation of best practices in educational strategies, ideas, resources. Specializing in student ownership, engagement, feedback loops and collaborative, effective feedback.

The Teacher Desk Debate

Taylor Meredith

Here is where I stand:

I began teaching a 3rd/4th grade special education class at a public school in New York City. The classroom I inherited had been used by several teachers so when I moved in it had four teacher desks and zero student desks. After a long conversation with my principal it was clear that using a teacher desk for myself wasn't the most productive decision. To be honest, I was a bit relieved. I have gone through some organizational struggles in my life and was slightly worried that a desk would just become a crap collector. So, I decided to forgo my teacher desk in favor of a few large tables and a small wheeled cart filled with go-to supplies. The tables were multi-purpose: they could be used for grading and planning, reading and writing conferences, and small-group work. When I moved to a 5th grade collaborative team teaching class, both my co-teacher (Hi Nichols!) and I had small circle desks that served the same purpose.

Things were slightly different when I moved home to the Chicago area. My new principal didn't quite understand why I wanted to get rid of my teacher desk. I asked for permission to try it and re-evaluate after a year, so out went the desk. Never once did I wish I had a desk that year. Since my students were the ones who really owned the room it was important for them to be able to work at every space. I did have my own chair - it was a comfy wheeled chair that was missing an arm - truly one-of-a-kind. 

I have never had a teacher's desk so I am not sure what it is like to give one up - I imagine that is a big adjustment. But I do know that I prefer not to have a desk. I have a space for my things (I call it my parking spot) just as each student does, but that is it. It eliminates possibility of clutter and allows students to own the room. It has always been the right choice for me.

I would love to know - do you have a teacher's desk? What works for you?

Interesting connection to the business world via Forbes

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