So you want to go deskless…

I had a teacher at my school ask me recently what are my most important things to remember about selective seating/ deskless classroom. She is starting it up in her first grade classroom. So I thought I’d write a “how to” get started with a deskless classroom post with my top five basics. Here it goes:

  1. Choosing Spots- I make my students choose a new spot for every subject. This helps with fighting over spots becuase kids know if they don’t get their choice of spot (especially for fun spots like the couch) they will get it at some point in the near future.
  2. Name Tags- Students also have name tags to save their spots so they don’t get hijacked when they get up to get a pencil.  These are just like name tags that would usually get taped to desks, but they are laminated and the kids hang onto them.
  3. Good Character- My students and I talk a ton about making good choices. That goes for both where they sit in the classroom and by whom they choose to sit. We also discuss self-awareness and I make sure kids think about how they are doing sitting in a particular spot and if they need to move themselves. This also goes with letting it go if they don’t get the spot they want.
  4. Supplies- The students keep their notebooks and folders in their cubbies above their backpack hooks, and all other supplies (markers, scissors, etc) are all shared and stored elsewhere in the room.
  5. Structure- Deskless classroom does not mean chaotic free-for-all. You must put structures into place so the kids understand the expectation of where to sit in a given situation. For example, there are spots in my classroom that would be good for working silently, but wouldn’t be appropriate for whole group instruction. Mine are astronomy themed since that is the biggest science unit I teach and my classroom is astronomy themed.
    • Down to Earth (Where astronauts learn together)- This verbiage is for when I am teaching whole group. They have to be able to see me. Thankfully I have a microphone and sound system so they can hear me from wherever they are in the room.
    • ISS (International Space Station) (Where astronauts learn in small groups)- This is for partner and small group work. They all must be on the same level, so it can’t be one kid in a chair and the rest on the floor, and facing each other.
    • Black Hole (Where astronauts learn alone- this one is a bit of a stretch 😉 This is for independent silent work. Students can be anywhere in the room. They find all sorts of nooks and crannies to hide in. But they must be at least an armspan away from any other student. I also have offices (privacy boards) they can put up if they think that will help them focus.
    • In Orbit- Our school does Positive Discipline and we have to sit in a circle on the floor to have class meetings. This won’t apply to a lot of other schools.
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