Why my Classroom Does Not have Desks #Deskless
Tuesday I had a ROUGH day with “that class.” The class that gives me a run for my money every day. A class requires that I have every minute planned out well, or everything becomes chaos. The class that makes me so thankful I have my prep right after to mentally recover. The class that pushes me out of my comfort zone management-wise and ultimately will make me a better teacher.
But Tuesday I was not all sunshine and rainbows. I blew up on “that class.” They made me so frustrated with their disrespect, that I said things out of anger and used reading alone and answering the questions alone as punishment. (That was the worse thing I could have done to a group with a wide variety of abilities and many special accommodations).
So Tuesday night as I lay in bed still hot thinking about that class, it came to me after seeing a post on the TPRS – Deskless Classroom Facebook page. I should get rid of my tables. I have been meaning to go deskless for years.
Ever since I saw the awesome Grant Bouglanger present at CSCTFL a couple of years ago, I have wanted to try it. Last year, I ordered a class set of clipboards, with the intention of getting rid of my tables.
But, I was too chicken to try and still be the teacher in the school. I knew when I returned from maternity leave that it would be a big change for the students, so I did not want to freak them out right away. But now, it was time. I needed a management change.
Wednesday morning the time got away from me, and the tables were still in their normal places. The class before “that class,” I asked my students to help me move the tables around the perimeter of the room. I went deskless mid day and it was a great choice.
- As students enter, they are asked to put everything on the back tables except their novel (or what they need to start class).
- I have a class set of clipboards on a basket that students may use if they would like.
- Students are asked to sit up with eyes on who is talking.
- Our chairs are currently in a semi circle, but I plan to start making other formations and marking on the floor with tape, so students know where they go.
- Most classes are reading novels right now, so for all class discussion and when I read to them students stay in this formation.
- When we have work time or group activities, they can pull chairs up to tables, sit on the floor or work in the class library. While working with manipulative sentence strips today I had students working in pairs on tables, under tables, and pretty much all over the room.
- Since we do not have textbooks, this is a much easier transition than if students needed a lot of “stuff.” Students just have a small binder and their current small novel.
- Great for class discussion in Spanish – It is so much easier to do PQA (personalized question and answer), special person interviews, and discuss projected questions from a novel where everyone is facing each other.
- Few distractions – When students enter, all bags and stuff go on the back tables. This means that chromebooks, phones, hidden snacks, other homework, and everything else that keeps them from focusing on Spanish is out of site and out of mind.
- More engagement – Since students can’t hide behind tables, everyone by default has been paying more attention and participating more. It is much easier for me to teach to their eyes, when everyone is closer together.
- More space – There is so much room for activities! My room seems bigger and we have space to dance and do other fun things.
Questions you may be thinking
- Do students think I am crazy? – Yes, but that is nothing new.
- Has there been any push back? – A few students seem less than pleased, but they are also the ones who hate any kind of change. The upperclassman were actually the ones that kept trying to put their backpack by them, but they are the worst multitask offenders. Without distractions, we had a great, genuine discussion today about our novel and the MS-13 gang.
- Where do they write? – They can pick up a clipboard, pull up to a table, or just write on their binder.
- What do other teachers think? – The science teacher across the hall mentioned that she was curious to see it in action, so I told her she was welcome anytime. She actually sat in part of a class today, and said she was very glad she did.
- Has it been perfect? – No, but I had my best day yet today with “that class.” They were focused, having fun, and participating.
- Do I have it all figured out? – Heck no. I am still learning and growing every day. But, I do know that today was one of my best days teaching in a while. I am leaving feeling energized with the deskless possibilities.
Update – read Deskless Classroom FAQ & Expectations
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