Episode 16: Ditch the Desks!

deskless teaching Aug 23, 2022


In this episode I tell you ALL the reasons I LOVE being a teacher in a deskless classroom! I will be recording a part two to this episode soon to go over the logistics, talk about admin and parent buy in, and MORE!

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Welcome to Teaching la vida loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity and guidance in centering joy and facilitating language acquisition for the people who matter most our students, I'm your host, Annabel. Most people call me la maestra loca and I'm an educator just like you, and inspiring teachers is what I do. I am so stinking excited to record this episode for you tonight, you don't even know. And I'm gonna go ahead and be honest and upfront with you right now I am not recording in the closet tonight. So it might not sound as good as it normally does. Because I have my feet up. I am holding my speaker in my lap. And in my hand, I am holding my glass of wine. So, you get what you get, folks, you get what you get.

Being A Deskless Teacher 

Welcome to Episode 16 of teaching la vida loca. This episode is all about being a deskless teacher, I am a teacher that owns no desks. I am a teacher that does not like desks. I am a teacher that has been desk free for I guess nine years, nine years now. And I would literally never go back. In fact, I had to go back the second year of the pandemic, when we came back, you know, everything shut down in March. And then when we came back in the fall? Well, we kind of came back I guess we started virtual and then we came back and then we were virtual and came back. Let's not remember those times. Yeah, let's not go there. But I pushed into 12 classrooms that year, as a middle school teacher. So I pushed into fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade and eighth grade classrooms. And I was reminded why I will never, if I have a choice, teach with desks ever again. And I want to share that with you today. I decided to put a post out on Instagram, just to get some of your questions about being deskless. What that looks like, what that means. And I was so overwhelmed with the amount of questions you'll had, I decided I'm probably going to have to do this episode in two parts. So let's jump in.  

Community Questions 

I want to start with a question that I would say 50% of the questions or this question, or included something about this question. Are you ready? But what about writing? How do students write? I do too much writing in my class. I can't not write oh my gosh, y'all. Let me be clear. I write every single day. We write every single day in my classroom every single day. Now I'm not doing it right now with my elementary students. But we've just started the year I haven't even given them their journals yet. You already heard about my community building and my focus on non target language at first. Well, now we're jumped, jumped. I don't know what I'm saying. But we are fully in the target language. I am doing TPR all day every day for three to four weeks. So we're fully in we have done two writing things. But normally, after these first four weeks when we introduce journals, they are writing every single day, they will be writing a journal in their journal for a day now every day, we will be doing a writing discuss probably two three times a week. I did it at least two or three times a week in middle school. And there'll be doing lots more in their journals every day. They'll also be doing writing assignments to put into their binders. We are writing all the time. How you do the writing is up to you. Sometimes you use clipboards I have some kids who just use their journal on their laps as a surface. And middle school students who like to lay on the floor and write I'm finding that that's trickier with elementary they are like way too silly on the floor. But I have elementary students who sit on the floor and then use their chair as a service. I had some middle school students that would pull over what are those called like lap desks. I also know my friend Dawn Noble who teaches in high school said that she has a few TV dinner trays that are folded up in her classroom for students who want to drag those over. So there's a million different ways to do it, to go about it. But I'm going to share more about the logistical side of things I think in the second podcast episode like the literal logistics. 

Deskless Obsession

Right now. Today I want to talk about why I am obsessed with being deskless. And why most teachers that I know who switched to being deskless love it. The first is no surfaces. So many of you were talking about well, I don't know how I would deal with no services for writing. No, I love that there's no surfaces and this is why I love that there's no hiding behind those surfaces. There's no leaning on those surfaces so hard that your face kind of melts into your arm and your elbow kind of sinks into the desk and then your brain disappears because you're, like falling asleep. I love that there's no hiding behind the desk. There's no human sleeping on the desk. There's no way to hide a phone behind the desk. There's no walls. I see desks as literal walls. I know I've talked about that word literally. But I do I see them as literal walls, barriers between me and my students, barriers between my students and each other, barriers to the community, that I'm trying to build, barriers to the movement that my students, young and old, desperately need, barriers to the connections I'm trying to make with them and I want them to make with each other, barriers to the communication, the potential of communication, that I find limitless when I'm deskless. And I'm being dramatic. Sure, like I'm putting it all out there. But I'm telling you, it feels limitless. I feel free, it is freeing to not have desks. 

Classroom Management 

I also think that the greatest challenge I faced when I had to go back to having desks was management. My classroom management sucked. It felt like it was back to the first and second year teacher not bashing you if you're a first and second year teacher, but oh my goodness, oh, my goodness, I, God, it's so hard. Classroom management is so hard to begin with. But when you put desks into the mix, it's an impossible feeling to me, like so much of what I do is quickly moving across the room just for proximity, or for waking kiddos up or to draw their attention back to me, or to quickly handle a conflict that I see coming. I can do all that so quickly, because I don't have any desks.

Student Buy-In

Now one person on Instagram said, How do you do this with large class sizes? I have class sizes of 35. Girl? How do you have desks? A class of 35. I'm talking about removing furniture from your room, my friend. You'll have so much more room more space, more possibilities, liberating, it's so freeing. Okay. But what if my students don't like it, you're going to, I promise you 100% have a few students who are going to push back if you have always had desks and you're moving to be deskless, there will be pushback, there will be pushback. However, once you do it for a year, and it becomes the norm for you and your space and your class, that pushback will stop. Because it will just be known as your thing. My first year at my old middle school? Absolutely. I had maybe 10 kids who had never seen me, never known me. They began knowing me as a deskless teacher and they pushed back. And I said no, it's just not what we do in Spanish. And they quickly stopped complaining because they loved the brain breaks. They loved the movement. Now, I had eighth graders last year who were from other schools, who really, it took a while for them to adjust. And I don't necessarily think that they loved it ever. But they adjusted because they realized this was the norm in my space. And I would do whatever it took when it came to writing to make them comfortable, but that we do not use desks in my classroom. So that's just a note I wanted to make about that because I know that people had a lot of questions around students and student opinions of it.  

Part 2 Coming

I am going to leave it there for this episode because there are literally so many more questions around logistics around admin, buy in, parent buy in and just movement and activities in general. I'm going to do a whole other episode, Episode 17 I guess it'll be part two of the deskless classroom. But I really want you to soak that up first. How to create the dreamiest of dreamy classrooms is ditch your desks, ditch your desks, every sit with me. ditch your desks. ditch your desks. ditch your desks, ditch your desks, you can't do Do it. Yay, yay, yay. Oh my gosh, I seriously I'm so excited about this. I'm so excited about even the potential of one person listening to this feeling motivated enough to ditch their desks. It's going to be life changing. More on this in the next episode. I'm so excited for you to experience this firsthand for yourself. So excited for you to unlock the potential of the community, communication, and just positive, limitless potential of the deskless classroom. So much love to you. Until next time, I will be teaching la vida loca and I know you will be too. Take care teacher.

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