Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Eleven-Year Itch, Time to Drop the Ol’ Desk and Chain

This is a guest post by Christopher Rogers. Christopher is an English teacher. Theatre enthusiast, and self-proclaimed black belt nerd. Christopher is also at the heart and soul of the free worldwide e.conference titled Reform Symposium. You can find his blog here.

by Christopher Rogers

I used to have a Cadillac of a desk, an enormous and formidable wooden fixture. It was the envy of the school. Other teachers would gaze at that desk and wonder aloud “Its beautiful, where did you get it?” The truth is, I inherited that desk, and it came with the room. But it was beautiful, and coupled with my multi-position swivel chair it was the model of an ergonomic workstation. I could just see that I was going to accomplish big things behind that desk. But something happened between that desk and me last year and we began to grow apart. I wanted to spend time with someone else... my students.

The thing about that desk is that it was huge; it took up a lot of space. Not only that but it put a lot of space between my students and me. It wasn’t just sitting at it; it was standing behind it or leaning on it. I was drawn to the desk’s gravitational pull. It was away from the kids and so was I.

So I dumped my desk. I didn’t tell it that it wasn’t you it was me, instead I just told the janitors to remove it from my room. You should have seen the looks on their faces. “Really?” they asked incredulously. The head janitor even went so far as to put the old desk in the study hall room because he was absolutely sure I would change my mind in the middle of the year and “didn’t want to hall it back out of storage.”

The changes in my classroom were immediate and profound. Since I also have tables in my room when the desk was gone there was no longer a ‘front’ to the room, which provided the learning environment I was looking for. I was out there with them, in the fray. I was sitting at the table with them participating in their learning and there was nowhere for me to hide.

So if you’ve been looking for a way to alter your teaching style. If you’ve been following the guerilla learning reformation taking place online but aren’t sure how to participate, dump your desk. I guarantee that move will spark conversation. When another teacher asks why on earth you would get rid of your desk, tell them… and you’ve gotten the ball rolling.


  1. Awesome post Christopher! When I began as a VP last year, I refused a desk on favour of a simple table, and that table went up against a wall. I don't sit behind it when I talk with kids or parents or staff members. I have a round table where kids come with work so I can support them, or where teachers can come with work samples to moderate with me. For next year I'm on the lookout for a couch!
    Take care,

  2. I did the same thing two years ago! Totally changed how I approach my students. Currently struggling with letting new paraprofessional know that she won't have one this coming year because of my belief in not having one in the all. But I'm the new teacher, so must approach carefully. All in all, it just makes more sense and helps us truly bridge the teacher-learner relationship in a literal and figurative manner.

  3. I haven't had a desk in 6 years & I love it! Honestly, I prefeer the flooor. What I do notice is that desks are beiing replaced wiht mostrous computer tables and IWBs. So if you are an educator who prefers not to have fronts or backs of the rooom it can be tricky. But doable!

  4. In kinder, a desk is a mute point, but I am 20 yrs without. I did have a piano once, and I actually loved that! I do love the discomfort on faces as they gaze about , searching . . .


Follow by Email