Deskless! What’s it all about!?

Deskless! What’s it all about!?

I feel like every blog I’ve started in the last year begins with “HEY, long time no hear!” or something like it… I am going to stop apologizing for being busy, overwhelmed and stressed out though, and not worry about the time I didn’t write! Glad to be here with you now!

Today, I wanted to go ahead and take the time to “pitch” the idea of “pitching your desks” and going deskless! You may already be deskless or maybe you’ve been hearing about it for a few years but could never really imagine it for yourself… I thought, before everyone headed back to school to set up their classrooms, I would make a quick post to advocate for you to take the leap and just DO IT!

This is what writing looks like in my Deskless classroom

Here is a list of Pros and Cons, an FAQ (gathered from questions folx ask me on Instagram ALL the time) along with a few “what it looks like” photos. I hope it helps you!

PROs:

  • Less surfaces to clean! (for real)
  • “SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!” – (for real for real) I couldn’t do over 50% of my Brain Breaks last year because of space being so limited.
  • Allows for quick and easy movement across the room- HUGE classroom management tool – As I am talking I can move TO the students having a side conversation and stop that conversation 90% of the time just with my proximity. I don’t have to look at them, call their names or say anything at all and I can “be there” in less than 5 seconds!
  • MUCH more challenging to hide a cell phone! (or anything)
  • Quicker and easier for students to get to their seats from other activities
  • Creates a more accessible classroom for your students with disabilities
  • Movement Matters!- Outside of Brain Breaks, our own teacher movement throughout the class-time matters! I learned the science behind it this summer at Conference in the Cloud with Justin Slocum-Bailey who said that our Brains literally “wake up” a bit and become reengaged with novelty of location. So, if I am able to move easily and quickly to a new part of the room as I am talking, their Brains stay more actively engaged with me!
  • Circles- they build community and communication! – there’s a reason restorative justice coordinators use CIRCLES when they lead restorative conversations! Now, I am not saying you have to set your class up in a circle. I usually do one GIANT rainbow arch, but you could also do two rainbows, or rows of some kind… but there is REAL power in students seeing each other in a semi circle
  • More possibilities of activities! – How do people play Trashquetbol with desks!?!?!?
  • NOTHING is permanent- if you hate it, you can just bring those desks back in! (make sure you’ve invested time in building a relationship with your custodial staff, because they’ll likely be the folx asked to help you with this task!)

CONs:

  • Your room can’t be used as a standardized testing room bc you don’t have desks for students to work on. Therefore you won’t cover your word walls all year long… DARN…..
    • they still NEEDED my room a couple of years ago, so in March, we moved the desks IN! 🙂 but moved them right back out again after testing
  • Your students can’t “hide” any more…
    • everyone is immediately part of the classroom community… (I see this as a win, but it is important to acknowledge the kids who look uncomfortable and build relationships with them early to make sure they can come to feel comfortable in that space)
  • Your room will look “different” than everyone else’s in the building…
    • You teach a world language… your class is inherently different already… this is just the cherry on the top! ???????????? plus, you’ll never know who you’ll convince to join you! (A third grade homeroom teacher did at my old school after she visited my class a few times.. she’ll never ever go back to having desks)

FAQs:

  • but I teach High Schoolers. They are BIG people. Do you really think we can all fit if I go deskless?
    • This question always stumps me for a minute… remember, you’re REMOVING furniture, not adding! Of COURSE you’ll all fit! You’ll actually be significantly more comfortable!
  • My class sizes are HUGE, do you do “deskless” even with your big classes?
    • Again, slow blink here, YES! TOTALLY! ABSOLUTELY! It will give you MORE room with those big classes because all the surfaces will be gone!
  • But I do writing in my class. You must never do writing? How do they write?
    • my students write daily. Multiple times, daily… writing looks like that picture at the start of this blog. Some students grab a clipboard, others grab their binders and write on top of those, others sit on the floor and use their chair as a surface, some stand and lean against the wall, some lay on the floor… I don’t care what it looks like as long as the task gets accomplished. My kids know this. Yours will too.
  • What if my students rebel and hate it!?
    • if we’ve learned ANYTHING in the last academic year, it is that kids are resilient and incredibly flexible. I would be willing to bet they’ll welcome the change (outside of not being able to hide their phones ????????????) They’ll adjust if it is the new norm to your classroom!
    • I also believe there is huge power in explaining the WHY behind things. Tell them WHY you’re doing it, let them experience first hand on day one just how much more you can DO in a deskless classroom. Pop-up theory is your friend! Kids always appreciate hearing a why!
  • What does computer work look like then?
    • Like this:
  • Chairs move a LOT more without desks, how do you reset class every time before another group comes in?!
    • I don’t, I have students do it before they leave. I put tape down on the floor to help them (painters tape) and they pull their chairs up to the line before leaving.
  • What if my admin aren’t for it?!
    • Direct them to this blog and videos like this one that show the possibilities for kids to move and interact more with more space! Express to them that you want students to be able to USE the language more and communicate quickly and easily (because that always seems to be a BIG thing for admin to hear) and you’re able to do that with more space!

What are you waiting for!? I’m telling you, YOU ANNNNND your students will want to JUMP for Joy if you make the switch!

Until next time, Happy TEACHING!

Love,

La Maestra Loca

I went back to school on Tuesday, this was my “first day” pic.. and no, I wasn’t ready…

7 Comments

  1. Reyna Lopez

    Hello Maestra Loca, your floors must be incredibly clean, how do you accomplish that.
    I would NOT ask my students to sit in our floors that only get moped once a year. (although they “sweep” daily) -bummer

    • I don’t make them sit on the floor, some choose to. they definitely aren’t spotless lol If it makes you uncomfortable then don’t let that be one of your options… xo

  2. Aamina

    I am deskless and have been for 4 years. It gives us the ability to move and when we do our dance unit, we only need to move chairs and I love the space. With all the desks, I feel claustrophobic! After the first week, the students are used to it and have found ways to get comfortable.

  3. Rebecca Loftus

    I am doing it! I am excited and ready!!

    • Reyna Lopez

      Our floors are not that clean – well, not clean at all! :o(

  4. I’ve been deskless for years, and only have had one student object enough to go and get a desk for her use. I love the circle, i love moving freely, and I love the lack of barriers between us. Thanks for reminding us of how this works and how it’s worth it. I hope more folx take the leap and try it.
    Bummer that you’re back already, but your kids will be glad that you are there with them. ¡Buen año!

  5. Marcy Hess

    Our district starts Aug 25 and I am going to try it!! EEKK! I’m excited!

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