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Monday, June 20, 2016

Why I Brought My “Ditched” Desk Back

Why I Brought My “Ditched” Desk Back

    Over the last year I’ve seen the “Ditch the Desk” movement gain momentum, and I’ve seen a lot of reasons that teachers have “Ditched.” They often include one or more of the following.

Reasons to Ditch
  • I don’t use it anyway
  • It takes up too much room
  • It’s just a place to pile things
  • It creates a separation between me and my students
  • I can really use the space for other things (stations, centers)

So, after much thought, I “Ditched.”  I wanted to use some of the space for makerspace activities and replaced my desk with a small square table for my computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

That was August, just before school started. Now, early October and the last day of first quarter, it’s back.  My first quarter of school was a difficult one. My sixth graders in our self-contained classroom weren’t particularly difficult, but I never really felt settled.  I was continually searching for things.  The parent permission forms were always in my lower desk drawer on the left side.  Discipline referrals were always in the top center drawer.  IEP, LEP, GT, and 504 information was in the top left.  My snacks, bottom right. Now these things were scattered across a poorly designed and foreign file folder system on a counter.  There were piles everywhere and no place to put them. That’s when I realized, I hadn’t just “Ditched” a desk.  I had ditched 5 drawers that were an important part of my organizational system for years.  

Furthermore, as I reflected on my lost space and organizational structure that those five drawers provided, I realized that the “space” that I thought I would gain by “Ditching” didn’t materialize.  In fact, the small table I placed where my desk used to be was only about 18 inches shorter that the length of my old desk.  And, it had no built in storage like the desk had.  So, my dream of using the space for other things was never realized.

However, that was just part of my decision to “Unditch” my desk.  As I sat looking around the classroom, I thought about the many late nights of “Data Evenings,” School Carnival, Halloween party preparations, curriculum meetings, and Technology Focus Teacher meetings, and early morning faculty, IEP, STAT, and 504 team meetings. Then, with the students working on one of the makerspace activities I designed, and I purchased.  Researching with the iPads that I spend evenings managing. I realized that everything, and I mean everything, from the games in the closet to the posters on the walls is for them.  I realized that I had given up the one thing that was completely and uniquely mine.  My comfortable grading area, my computer area, my snack drawer, my organizational system and it didn’t help my teaching or their learning at all. I know it may sound selfish, but no one spends more time in that classroom than me, and I’m the most valuable resource my students have.  I deserve to be comfortable, happy, and have a small space that is mine.  

That final day of first quarter, I brought back my organizational system, my space, my sanctuary.  By “Unditching” my desk, I got more space back than I ever gained by “Ditching” it in the first place.

Allen Hancock

****If you are a desk “Ditcher,” and it has worked for you, congratulations.  This is just my story of trying to ditch and is not a judgement about ditching in general. My only intent in writing this is to share my story and hopefully give those thinking of “Ditching” their desk a chance to prepare for the issues that I hadn’t considered if they choose to try “Ditching.”

About Me
  • Sixth Grade Teacher in a k-6 elementary school teaching all subjects
  • Over 20 years of classroom experience in grades 3, 5, and 6
  • Former Interventions Specialist specializing in behavioral interventions
  • Technology Focus Teacher implementing 1:1 iPads for the last 3 years
  • Just in Time Trainer
  • Presenter (Idaho Core Days, Technology Showcases, Idaho State PTA Convention, and Idaho Educational Technology Association conference) on “BYOT-Making it Work in Your Classroom” and “Parent/School Communication with Mobile Tech”
  • Remind Connected Educator
  • Class Dojo Mentor  
  • Contributor to the IEA Reporter

Twitter @ahancock516