Today I decided to get rid of my teacher desk. Felling like a rebel, feeling a little brave, put the door it went to some other wanting teacher. And yes, while this may seem spur of the moment it is something I have been pondering for about a year now pushing it away whenever the thought crossed me. You see, I love my desk. To me it signifies being a teacher; sitting behind the desk, grading papers, surveying the room, feeling powerful. All things I used to take such pride in, particularly the grading of papers, and now that doesn't seem to be me anymore. Now I don't take pride in grades but rather in the conversations I have with my students surrounding their work. Now I love being away from my desk, preferably on the floor or next to a student working. Now I don't feel powerful in an authoritarian way but rather in a "knowledge is power" type of way.
And yet that desk was my anchor. My teacher space, sacred to me and a no-no for the kids. Whenever I needed to retreat I scurried behind it, setting up my barrier. Whenever I needed to signal to the kids that I needed some space, there I was sitting in my chair working. The wall was up, the kids knew it and I was safe. The chair was too comfortable, the desk had too much space for piles, and the kids didn't like to approach me whenever I sat behind it. And yet it beckoned for me, drew me to it almost like a magnet; come sit, come relax, come work. And so I did, finding myself nestled in its power, in its comfort over and over, when I should have been on the floor next to those kids. When I should have been out in the room walking, working, learning. Now don't think I sat behind it teaching, just shouting out instructions, I never did, but I pulled kids behind it for one-on-one time. I had kids come there for help, for learning, and it didn't work. They immediately felt the power of the desk and were not able to relax. They knew they were in my space, not theirs, and so their guard was up when I needed it to be down. The desk had too much power.
So today I say goodbye to the beacon of my teacher strength. I cleaned out all the drawers, emptied the files and wiped it down one last time. The remarkable thing was all the stuff I found in it that I didn't even know I had; 13 white out's, reward certificates, and numerous empty files. Apparently my so essential piece had become rather nonessential in its true purpose. I was nervous sure, I still am, but at the same time I knew it was time to say goodbye. I don't want our classroom to be their space versus my space. I want it to be all of our space. I want the kids to feel they can approach me wherever I sit. I want them to have room to sprawl out on the floor, I want to sit with them as we learn together. I have said before that we were on this learning journey together; now we truly are. So farewell dear friend, you have served me well but now we have grown apart.
For more inspiration to give up your desk, please read this posts - they inspired me.
Russ Goerend's Post on going desk less.
John T Spencer's Post on how he was wrong.