Teachers, hold on to your desks! Your classroom footprint matters!
It’s always a thrill this time of year to see teachers on social media showing off their classrooms. Not only are teachers proud of their workspace, they understand that the ambience in those rooms is critical to how students feel about learning and school. Teachers often dip into their pocketbooks to make their classrooms welcoming.
Student desks are often arranged to maximize socialization. Tables are usually set up for young students. Teachers purchase couches, chairs, old bathtubs, bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, special lighting, and books to make their classrooms feel like home.
I have not seen the industrial rows of desks like Betsy DeVos always complains about. Middle and high schools might have desks in rows. It depends on the kind of classroom teachers get. They’re limited in what they can do with a room. If DeVos cares so much about school room arrangement, she should see to it that school infrastructure receives better funding.
I’ve heard of teachers starting school without enough desks! This is poor planning on the part of the school and district administration.
Dr. Bob Dillon writes about classroom spaces. He makes some good observations and gives interesting pointers. I like his ideas about using hallways and displaying student work. But some of what he suggests is worrisome. He sounds a bit like he is preparing us for the privatized classrooms of the future.
He suggests that teachers get rid of their desks to make room, or as he puts it “reducing a teacher’s footprint.”
A teacher may or may not use their desk. Many teachers walk around their classes helping students. But a teacher’s desk is an important symbol. It’s where teachers plan, check work, and think about their students and how they teach. I’ve seen this notion that teachers should get rid of their desks on a lot of pro-tech classroom transformation reports.
Along with getting rid of teacher desks, saying a teacher should reduce their footprint implies that they aren’t needed. It’s about technology.
Most teachers see the value in technology. But technology is a tool. It’s how teachers use it that will assist students.
When it’s suggested that teachers ditch their desks, it sounds suspiciously like teachers will be the next to go!
Dillon is promoted on EdSurge that hypes technology, and he’s written books about converting classrooms to technology. So telling teachers to get rid of their desks begins to make more sense, but not in a good way.
This ideology involved with getting rid of a teacher’s desk, includes putting children more in charge. That’s also on Dillon’s list. Helping students work independently is a good thing. But students also need a teacher’s direction. Teachers set the stage for learning, like they set up their classrooms.
Here is one of many vivid examples. Years ago, my child’s second grade teacher helped students create a rainforest. They converted their classroom into a rainforest by drawing and painting a forest. They studied and learned about rainforests. They read about how rainforests are endangered. They studied the animals and terrain and other interesting facts about rainforests. Then they invited parents to see their classroom creation. They spoke to us about rainforests. We learned what they had learned. Would they have studied rainforests automatically without the teacher’s careful planning?
Teachers introduce students to new information. They create the magic to help students learn, if they are given the time and independence to do so. They need those desks to think and work out the plans.
Teacher’s hang on to your desks. You’re still in charge, and students need your creativity! Your footprint matters greatly. Have a great school year!