I started a new job this year, and about seven or eight weeks in I decided to do something that I have been wanting to do for years. I went deskless! I have been reading blog post on blog post, talking to peers at local collab groups, and doing a lot of self reflection about classroom practices.
There are a lot of reasons that I chose to go deskless, but I’m just going to discuss the # most important to me making the change.
- I like to move around and I like to bust a move every once in a while (I’ve got a pretty sick worm that no one I have met has been able to match). I’m a twenty-five year old man, if I was feeling constrained when I actually did have the “authority” to move around the room, how were my students feeling? Students would groan when we did TPR, because they had to arrange themselves out of the desks and out of their rows to do the activity. We did circling with a beat a lá Sr. Wooly and the entire time I was thinking how much more fun it would have been to be standing.
The desks were too constraining for me. I couldn’t move around as freely as I wanted to, I couldn’t observe students as closely as I wanted to. We were six chairs deep and three across at any point in the room. Those students in the back were not getting any attention because I couldn’t freely visit them. Now, every student is within an eye’s gaze of me. It’s great for me!
- The students aren’t distracted by things that aren’t class. They can’t be on their phone, I tell them they are just being straight up rude at this point because you can’t even try to hide them. They can’t do homework for other classes, and they can’t lay their heads down and zone out.
If we know that students have to comprehend the language that they hear/read before they can produce it, I need their full attention when I am speaking (whether story-asking, or PQA), or when we are reading as a class. I tell students, and this is a little pop-up theory, “We don’t know exactly how many times we have to hear and understand a new word in a language before we can use it, but if you’re on your phone when I say a word you may have missed the one time the word would have clicked with you”. Note: If you can refute that, please do because if I’m giving digestible tidbits of theory to my students I want them to be correct.
- My class is different in a lot of different ways. It’s different than the Spanish class students took last year, it’s different than their English, Math, or Science class. It’s different than anything they’ve had in school until this point. Warning for a semi-political statement. School in its current state in the US is not working. We have too many students that hate coming to school, we have the power to change that. We have the power to give students a positive experience at school rather than the drab that’s been going on forever. My hope is that students enjoy coming to my class because it’s different than the rest of their day. They can sit on the floor, on the windowsill, on the tables, or of course, in a chair. Maybe I’m breaking up the monotony a little bit. Hopefully.
I think deskless has been a positive change. I’m really looking forward to exploring the possibilities of the space in my room, and how it can improve students’ perception of school… all while acquiring a new language.
And of course, what would it be if I didn’t share what my classroom looks like! (Don’t mind my messy desk!)