getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}


Before the last three weeks of school, I spent almost an entire weekend in my classroom… with a plan.

The plan was to be brave, be bold and try something different. The last two years, I really hadn’t changed much in layout with my classroom because it was working well and in general, very smoothly.

This year.. it wasn’t bad, but with change comes sometimes the need to optimize. Since I began teaching math in small groups, I really found myself spending a lot of energy being creative in the placement of my materials. I really had to have everything from math put away in order to make guided reading groups function without manipulatives around. I shared the same instructional space for both times of the day.

a better way

Having told you this, know that this draining creativity squeeze was just the beginning of the thinking, “There has to be a better way to do this everyday.”

Enter the thought, thanks to reading wonderful teacher articles on organizing, rearranging and classroom decor, “What if I got rid of my teacher desk?” {Silent scream!} I wanted to. I wanted to give more space to what we really do – which is learn all day long. My desk is the place for me to plan, prepare, answer notes and keep it all together… but I am only ever there during specials or before and after school.


I wanted to… but I had no idea what it would look like and what patterns of habit I’d have to change in order to accept what else would take its place. I thought and thought and drew sketches. I began to feel energizing creative juices flow and began to design… I could create more alternative seating placements and get rid of having one traditional “seat” for every child.

Moving things around with a few weeks left of school gave me the opportunity to see if my sketches could come to life.

The results? I love it! Love it, love it, love it!


My favorite aspect of the new room layout, which was brought on by having additional space now that my traditional desk is gone, is that there are more open spaces. I used to think that open spaces were terrifying {insert picture of kinders wrestling} but that doesn’t hold true for me any more. I will tell you, that because I have a teacher computer on a shelf, I am using space next to it to hold my “teachery” things. But everything that was in my desk either found a new home, or it got pitched.

{Throwing things away felt soooo good}

So, I’m not without a teacher space that I will still use for planning and prepping.

Kindergarten Works :: getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}

There was nothing wrong with my teacher desk. My room now looks at least 1/3 bigger since, visually, the big black box of my desk was cutting it off. It feels more spacious, relaxed and inviting. And, having tried it for three weeks with kinders… its fully functional and very kinder friendly.

And you can see that, I can easily turn around and use my guided reading space for spreading out to do projects if needed during my plan times. The organized part of me likes that that I can’t leave teacher stuff out since we use it daily for student use. So, my new rule for what stays in my teacher area? If I use it on a daily or weekly basis, it can stay. If not… it finds a new home in a cupboard, filing cabinet or closet.

Kindergarten Works :: getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}

It lends itself to whole group, small group and independent work. Remember I said this desire for change was brought on by the thought that I needed to change something since I now teach math in small groups? We found a kidney shaped table to bring in, and had plenty of room since two large rectangle tables went out.

Kindergarten Works :: getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}

My guided reading will now happen at a regular height kidney table and guided math will be at the floor height kidney table. We now have just 2 traditional rectangle tables with chairs/seats.

Kindergarten Works :: getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}

All tables, chairs, floor spaces {minus the sunken area and closet}, and shelves will be used as student spaces. I will have limits of how many kinders can be at a table during independent work to limit the noise levels. And I have clipboards and lapboards for students who choose to work on the floor.

Kindergarten Works :: getting rid of my teacher desk {alternative seating bonus}

These are just some of the snapshots to give you a glimpse of how our room feels and looks now. How did I make the ball chair? Would you believe a Walmart bouncy ball {yes – it held up!} and a yoga ring to keep it in place. One of my readers suggested a frisbee as a less expensive alternative to keep a ball in place. The new seat was very successful – so I added a second (and then a third) . I also have a few crate seats for use with our computers to offer variety.

A lot came from the idea, but I hope sharing some photos can give you some ideas too! If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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  • Cherilyn Harrison

    I just got rid of my desk and I don’t miss it at all! Woohoo! :) Lots of extra space.

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Awesome to hear Cherilyn! I’m right there with you!
      – Leslie

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  • Jenny

    I haven’t used a teacher desk for years…..just takes huge amount of space from your classroom…..and the amount of clutter I collect is a lot less, as you can’t say ‘just put it on my table’ As teachers we adapt very quickly to working with what we have around us :)

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      So true!
      – Leslie

  • Carly

    I have never used a desk in my reception room, I love that It saves on space, but I am in awe of just how big your classroom is! Here I am lucky if i have half that room with 22-28 (the number I ended up with last year). I’m salivating at the thought of what I could do with all that space!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Carly, It definitely feels bigger since I took out a table/chair for every child. I love having the space and seeing how we can use it so much better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      – Leslie

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  • Mandy

    I was curious about your shorter tables…why? and how?

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Mandy,
      I wanted to offer a variety of seating options and like the idea of kneeling for kinders. It’s kind of a good mix for those who like to do floor work but still need a table surface. I enjoy using our table down low when working with students too because we all end up on the same level.
      – Leslie

  • Erica Carlmark Woolwine

    Where do you have your reading library? Where do they all sit in the morning when you take attendance, do work at the same time, etc?

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  • Louise Ellis

    I am about to embark on getting rid of some of the furniture as this seems to be the lastest trend (modern learning environments) here in New Zealand. We have just ended term 3 of our year and am going to trial it with my class for the last year. I really appreciate the ideas and the discussion/ comments with other teachers. It is great to have an insight into possible things to think about. Thanks again!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Louise, Did you give it a try at all since you had a chance to think about it last school year?
      – Leslie

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  • Tami O’Keefe

    I have used large yoga balls in the past and they were
    very beneficial.

  • Rachel Pickle

    I’ve been looking at the balls at Target and Wal*Mart. They look too small for a kinder to sit on- but that’s just me eye-balling it. Is that a yoga ball from there or one that is in those ball pits? Do you happen to know the diameter of the ball?

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Rachel, I wish I had the diameter but I don’t – sorry! They are all bouncy balls from Walmart pictured here. There definitely is a size difference though in the ones available. I didn’t realize this when I went to buy replacements the 2nd year (since some got a little gross after an entire year – but at $2 who cares?!) and I purchased a couple that were indeed too small for table work. If you can find a large size, you could buy one and test it out. I haven’t found a good yoga ball size that was cheap enough for me to splurge on otherwise, I might have invested in those. If you do find one, please let me know so I can share it with others!
      – Leslie

  • Amy Burge

    Leslie – I am a middle school teacher, and I am sitting here a week before school starts rearranging things like I do every year. This is my second year in this room (10th year altogether). When I inherited it, I got rid of 3 two-sided, gigantic bookshelves, 2 tall particle board type cabinets and a second teacher desk. It felt SO good to open up the space. I just moved my teacher desk and realized I don’t need this lateral file cabinet, so I got rid of that. But then I sat here and realized that I really don’t use my desk during class. Like you I only use it for planning and making phone calls. I have a counter height cabinet attached to the wall, and I was thinking, “If only I could get rid of that too!”. Then I realized, “Why don’t I use that for my computer?” Some doubts started creeping in, “My custodian is going to be ticked to have to move this downstairs to storage! What will the other teachers think?” So I decided to do a quick google search on “teachers with no desks”, and I came upon your post. Although my students are much older, they still deserve space! They want to move just as much as they did when they were in Kindergarten. I love your new classroom (well, new to me – old post)! I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post. It’s crazy how excited I am about this. hahaaa! Teaching is really great; isn’t it? Have a great year!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Amy, what a great story! Thanks for being willing to share it with me. I hope you love your new classroom arrangement. I felt the same way about what my custodian would say – ha! Way to go in taking the steps you knew needed to be done for you and your students!!
      – Leslie