Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Teacher's Desk - Setting Up the Classroom Series

This post is part of my Setting Up Your Classroom Series.

I posted this same picture in the small group area post, but...

A- It's so darn awesome that it is worthy of two posts and
B- It is applicable to this post as well. ;)

In a blog dedicated to decluttering classrooms, it is mandatory that I begin with the following question:

Do you really need a teacher desk?

Teacher "desks" often become teacher "offices" which take up a good chunk of the classroom. If you are short on space, you may want to consider doing away with the desk completely.

The reason I reposted Deanna's table, is because I super heart the way she added the colorful table skirt around it. This would be a fabulous way to make your teaching table double as your "desk." The skirt would allow you to store stuff underneath, and you could use a small supply basket for the essentials.

To determine if you could take the plunge and get rid of your desk ask yourself:

What do I use my desk for?
If it's storage, think about other places that you could store those same materials (or better yet, declutter the space and get rid of some of them). If you use your desk for planning, grading, etc. then consider alternative spaces that would work better.

Am I the only one benefiting from the space?
Teacher desks frequently monopolize a large fraction of the classroom, yet only one person is getting use out of it.

How does this piece of furniture effect my teaching?
Most teachers report that they don't spend much time at their desk. When children are present, teachers should be working with them and not sitting alone at a desk. When they are out of the room there are tables available to work at. Just some food for thought.

How does your desk area usually look and how does that make you feel?
The desk is a direct reflection of you. If it is cluttered and messy then that sends a message to the kids.

Is getting rid of the desk an option? If not, how could it be repurposed?
I currently have a teacher desk in my classroom. I doubt it could be removed because I don't think there would be anywhere to store it. However, I am planning to repurpose it as an area that kids can work at. It's higher than the tables so it'll be a good option for those friends that like to stand and work.

If you do really need a teacher desk, then let's focus on how to make it organized and efficient...

The following is a post I did last year about my desk.

I know that I function best in a clean, organized workspace.

Shocker, huh?

It sounds obvious, but it's easy to let your desk get cluttered. Taking the time to organize it and to establish methods of maintaining order are well worth it.

I like my desktop to be completely clear. It gives me room to work when I am planning and it provides a positive model for my students. To keep it clean I did a few things:

I removed anything that was not a job necessity from the area. I love my kids and think they are adorable, but I don't keep framed pictures on my desk. I do have a few tacked to the wall next to my desk (along with some of my son's finer preschool artwork). I also choose to not store knick-knacks and other cutesy things there.

I took the items that are typically found on a teacher's desktop and relocated them to my top left drawer. They are still very easy for me to access, but are not cluttering the area. This includes things like post-its, a stapler, tape, etc.
I like to use small containers within the drawer to keep things organized. Labeling the baskets is helpful too. There are some great desk organizer products available, but I prefer to keep everything out of sight.

I use my bottom left drawer to house my extra office supplyish type thingies.

Chances are you will never find yourself in a situation that warrants the immediate use of 3 rolls of tape, 4 boxes of staples and 2.5 bottles of White Out. I keep all of these items in plastic pencil boxes in the drawer and keep only one of each accessible.

Once your desk is organized, develop routines to make it easy to stay that way. Get into the habit of always clearing off your desktop at the end of prep, before lunch and before you leave for the day.

You can read about how Mandy Gregory did away with her teacher desk here:

From Mrs. Bird's site:

I like how this teacher personalized her desk with some decorations on the front.

Mrs. Farley over at Oh, Boy Fourth Grade (formerly 3rd), hosted a linky party where teachers posted about their desk areas. You can check it out here to see what others posted.
Here's her desk here:

Ms. Male uses plastic drawers on her desk (I heart those btw) in place of stacking trays. If your desk is against a wall they are a nice option.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.


  1. I got rid of my teacher desk when I started back in kindergarten... Well, actually, I was not allowed to move it out of my classroom, so now Theodora's cage sits on it! I'm a "stacker" so having a desk is just enabling my bad habits. I love being desk-free... sounds like red ribbon week, huh?

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

  2. I was going to go "desk free" this year, but since I have a Smart Board that needs a computer, document projector and a few other supplies I needed a table near it to support that. I decided to make the teacher desk that table (actually swapped for a smaller desk with another teacher). Rather than putting my stuff in the drawers, I'm going to put extra supplies for the students that they can access as needed.

    Great post!

  3. I am LOVING this series about setting up the classroom. I've been a teacher for 12 years and I feel like I'm getting so many great ideas. My teacher's desk is build into the wall at my school. I rarely use it so I turned it into a student publishing desk. They love it becasue they think they are working at my "desk". I have my "desk" back at my guided reading table.

  4. I use my kidney shaped table as my "desk". Since that is my small group area it needs to stay "clean" on the top. I did raise the legs enough to slide two of the plastic three drawer storage units underneath. My table top is blue and I got blue storage units so it looks nice.

    Since I just received a SMARTslate I had to push my teacher desk near the board and use the top of it for my SMARTslate.

  5. Thanks for all your great ideas! I visit your blog ALL the time! :) I will be teaching Kindergarten in the Fall & it will be a great resource!

    I just started my own Kindergarten blog & would love for you (&anyone else) to check it out!


  6. I am moving to third grade this year and I will have a smaller classroom. I am thinking of getting rid of my desk and having a table to use for small groups instead. I like the idea of putting the plastic drawers under the table. I NEVER sit at my desk except to fill out forms and check work. I could easily do that at a table during planning or after school. I LOVE the pics above , wow you all have some big classrooms!! I have just started a 3rd grade blog and would love for anyone to check it out also! LOVE Clutter Free Classroom!!

  7. I got rid of my desk in K a year ago. I seldom used it and was always at the small group table instead! I really needed the room so I took the plunge and moved all my essentials to baskets and pails and got rid of it. I don't miss it at all!

  8. I loved this series so much that I put a link to it on my must-read list! I hope that's alright! (Sorry, I probably should have asked first, but if it's not okay, I'll take it down!)

    First Things First

  9. Where did you get the white corner book case that is on your desk holding your notebooks? That is so stinking cute! :)

  10. I loved reading this :) I have to keep my desk because my school doesn't have any where to store it. I often have a student sitting at my desk as a reward. They love getting to do this. Just another idea :)

  11. Silly question, where did you get the nifty white shelving unit on your desk?? Works perfectly.

  12. Sometimes I wish I could be desk-free, but then I might never get my small-group table cleaned off!! I have a metal desk, and use the front for a word-work area. My students use magnetic letters to make words, write sentences, and practice sight words. I tape 4x6 index cards to the desk, with a sight word printed on it. They match the letters, which helps with spelling and writing.

  13. Where did you get the white binder storage that is on your desk? I need one of those! : )

  14. did u use tuna cans"_?

  15. You have a beautiful computer table. It is indeed organized. I'm glad that you keep all these stuff in their right place. These are quite small pieces and they're many. I wonder how you painstakingly get them all back to their designated places after class. Might be such a hard work!

    Lance Vartanian

  16. My classroom was so much neater this year, less clutter, more organized, it was much easier to pack up the room this spring! Next year will need a different set up, my classroom is a special ed. resource type room, with kids coming and going, next year I will have a child in a wheel chair and lots of equipment, we will continue to need small group stations, any advice? thank you, Paula


You may also enjoy...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...