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.

getting rid of my teacher's desk

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.

Time For a Change – Ditching My Teacher Desk

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.

A Fresh Classroom

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, closet, gets trashed or digitized.

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.

Alternative Seating Became a Thing in Our Room

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.

A Bouncy Ball Chair

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.

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

The new seat was very successful – so I added a second (and then a third). Not sure what size ball chair? Check out this (affiliate) ball chair for kindergarten with feet for size information.

I also have a few crate seats for use with our computers to offer variety.

alternative seating in kindergarten - KindergartenWorks

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.

How to Roll Out Student Work Spaces {alternative seating}

More on Alternative Seating

I ditched my teacher desk in kindergarten and went to alternative style seating. I'll never go back

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  1. Can you email my principal and let her know that teachers don’t NEED desks? I’ve been teaching for 6 years and never had a desk, until now. I hate how much space it takes up! Thanks for being creative and progressive.

  2. Those BIG ugly black boxes that they call teacher desks take up so much space. I have been contemplating getting rid of mine. I mean, why do I need a teacher desk and a kidney table?!? Then I got your email and saw this post yesterday. What an eyeopener. I got rid of my teacher desk today. All of my kinder colleges think I am nuts. My room has so much space now and it is so open. I absolutely love it!
    Thank you for your post…

  3. 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!

    1. 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

  4. 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?

    1. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

    1. Hi Erica, my library is in a sunken area of the classroom along with a computer table ( They sit everywhere that makes sense when we do work at the same time ( and they take attendance for me using our everything board (
      Hope this helps!
      – Leslie

    1. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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 🙂

  9. Thank you, Leslie, so much for your quick response! I am off to purchase some balls and frisbees! I will let you know how they work 🙂

  10. Your room looks terrific! I am lowering my student computer tables and would love to use some type of stability ball for them to sit on…I was wondering if your Walmart balls held up?? Or did they ever pop on a kid? I am hoping I can maybe use a Frisbee to keep them in place instead of purchasing a more expensive stability ring, hmm.. 🙂

    1. Hi Mia,
      I ended up having to replace the balls once during the year. They held up well, and I figured that for $2.50 if they lasted over half od the year we’d be good. I even added a few to my computer tables too. I did have a child pop one on purpose with a pencil – they were curious to see what would happen. A frisbee sounds like a great idea. Let me know how it works for you!
      – Leslie

  11. I went to a workshop with Lester L. Laminack. He is a truly bold educator. He suggested no desk and lower the desks with no chairs. With the new document camera located next to the smart-board and all connected to the teacher computer, space is tight. I used to do no desk. I will return to this free teaching space. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Your room looks great. I got rid of my desk after Christmas last year AND my guided reading table. (Custodian had a fit! :0 Then lots of other K teachers did it too. Our principal isn’t a fan of guided reading, so we are to conference with each child as often as needed. Sometimes, I still pull a small group for a focus lesson as needed. I still have to have a seat for each child at a table. I don’t know how to manage the seat work at tables w/o it. Not that we do paperwork all the time. Your thoughts? Thanks for sharing your creative ideas!

    1. Thanks Penny! My custodian also gives me the “eye” when I am banning furniture off to storage! I allow students to work really wherever, so we have shelves and clip boards and such for any traditional seat work. Like art projects and things will all be done around the room at different spaces. We really made a big change this year and the only time they were sitting in their seats was first thing in the morning. So, with such a small percentage of our day actually all using those tables together, it helped me feel okay with the change. But of course, I stiall have plenty of seats and spaces for everyone at the same time.

  13. Very interesting! I will be teaching an early/late bird class with ten transitional kids and 21 straight kindlers. We are switching to common core, Awards Reading (on iPads), and slowly bringing back guided reading and math. I have been reading a lot this summer but I’m not sure about individualized student seats. We have always had tables with a seat for each student but with these changes (I’m the only one of six kinder classes starting with CC and such) I am thinking not to have individual seats but it is hard to let go. I would appreciate your thoughts if you would please. Pat

    1. Pat, what did you do in between having guided reading and now coming back to it? Did you go to a basal reader? I also thought it would be hard to let go of seats, but I thought it was worth a try! Give yourself a time period in which you’d like to give it a trial and create plan on how you’d like to make it happen. I know that I always feel better when I make a plan to go with any big change. If you don’t love it – you can always go back! Students will probably need individual supplies (like pencil boxes) instead of community supplies so that they can take them wherever they end up working in the room.

      This was honestly a bigger concern for me than the chairs, because I had only ever done community supplies before. But, my trial of 3 weeks at the end of the school year told me it’ll work out great! I encourage you to go with what you’re excited about!

  14. This will be my first year without a desk. Like you I have a space for my teacher stuff and am looking forward to more space for other activities. Keep blogging about how it works for you.

  15. I am going deskless this year. I really like the idea of the yoga ball. I have been looking at using them in my room, but I could not figure out how to not have kids rolling all over the place. Now I know what to do! Thank you.


    1. A cheaper way to keep yoga balls from rolling around is to go to your local tire store and ask them to donate old tires. That is what we use in our school and they work great.

  16. Thanks for explaining how your changes have been beneficial to your student learning. I moved classrooms this year and have been looking for ways to change up the seating environment.

  17. Thank you for the visuals! I am in the process of moving into a new classroom and designing a new floor plan! Check out my new blog! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE your feedback/comments to help get me started in this blogging world!!!!


  18. LOVE your room! I have a small room and I am always looking for ways to make space! I do have a question – with your set up how will your students keep their supplies (scissors, glue sticks, crayons, etc)?

    1. Hi Kristie,
      I was just thinking about posting on this topic. Students will need supplies that can go anywhere in the classroom, so they will be using a plastic pencil box with pencils, crayons and one marker. That’s it. For glue and scissors and more markers, I’ll have those ready to dole out as needed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Sounds like small rooms is a running theme through some of these comments 😉

  19. You have inspired me! I am being forced to move to a much smaller classroom and have been stressing about it – seeing your ideas have made me feel better about it all! Thank you Leslie for continue to inspire! 🙂

    1. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that it was stressing you out Cheryl! I hope that you find some great solutions that make you excited about your space for next year as you continue planning and getting great ideas from elsewhere too!

  20. I am moving next year from a large kindergarten classroom to a smaller first grade room so that our kindergarten classrooms will be near each other. I had to get rid of my teacher desk simply because there will not be space. I am a pile-er also and have purposely not left any area for that and there also won’t be a desk to tuck things under when I ran out of space on top of the desk! It is scary but I am hoping to turn over a new organizational leaf.

  21. I got rid of my teacher desk this year and it is amazing! I’m such an organized person but the drawers of my desk was where I chose to shove things! I haven’t missed it yet 🙂

    Mrs. Thompson

    Adventures in Teaching

  22. I got rid of my desk two years ago. I have always been a “pile – er”. I still pile – but I am now limited as to where/how much I can pile. Except for a small amount of counter space for my computer, a two tray stacker, and three drawer boxes – the rest of the room belongs to the kids. It was hard. Everyone walks in and says”Where’s your desk?” I love to watch their faces when I say I threw it out.
    I also have ball chairs- but I have fit-balls that have udders to keep them from rolling. I have enough for 1/3 of my class. We really like them.

  23. Your space looks so inviting! I am moving classrooms this year (and changing back to K from 1st) and have been working on planning my new room. One of my teaching partners and I were just talking the other day…”Imagine how much space we’d have if we could get rid of some chairs and let the students sit on the floor or tables.” You might have given me the courage to try it. Any other tips on setting up a Kindergarten room?

    1. Welcome back to K Rachael! How do you like to plan – are you a “drawer” or do you like moving furniture to see what fits? I always try to see what the flow would look like and imagine how long of a line will we need to line up at the door, and minimize traffic flow problems. I do my best to not have all things in one location if it’s something they’ll all have to get at one time. This really helps me create transitions that are faster and easier on the kinders in general. Do you feel tight on space?

      1. I’m definitely a “draw-er.” (Actually, I use a home planning software that has a 3D view and put everything in there so I can move it and see it too!) I’m a little tight on space. I have 2 entrances and a bathroom to work around. Thanks for the tips about traffic flow. Sometimes its easy to get stuck on how things “look” instead of remembering how they will “work.”

  24. I am moving into a new room next year and I am trying to figure out how to make it all fit and I have really been thinking about getting rid of my teacher desk but I am so afraid to do it! As of right now the only thing on top of my teacher desk is my phone, there is a rectangle table next to the desk that has the computer and printer on it and I am sure the phone could easily be moved to that table. I may have to rethink getting rid of my desk.

    1. Moving to a new room is so much fun as it is work! Well, based on my experience and what I’ve read in these comments, you’ll love it too! See if you can somehow tag the desk as yours and have it put into school storage just to make yourself feel better – that’s honestly what I did! 😉 I won’t be asking for it back even though it was a pretty piece of furniture.

  25. I was just trying to figure out how to make more space in my room and I never even thought of getting rid of my desk…until now! Thank you!! 🙂

  26. PLEASE tell me how you made your precious tree!!! My amazing monkeys need a tree like that in their library!!!

    1. Hi Hdderamus,
      My tree is actually a small mesh tent. I spray painted it green-ish since it was white and covered the top and bottom with painted construction paper leaves. The trunk is painted bulletin board paper secured to the wall and the tent is hung suspended from the ceiling! Its quite cozy 😉

  27. I love this!! Good for you! I keep thinking about getting rid of my desk but I am not there yet! I think you room looks great! I love the kidney table low to the floor. Thanks! Melissa

  28. Love, love the idea of the bouncy ball and yoga ring! Such a cheaper alternative to the ball chairs! Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome Tamara! It’s just the right size for kinders! I didn’t want to invest or ask if I wasn’t going to like the alternative seating, so this was my trial. But, if the balls hold up – they’ll stay! (Plus at $1.50, I can afford to buy a few a year if needed) 😉

  29. Mary,
    I was just asking people on FB the other day about how many kinders is the ideal number. And many said 18 – you and I might never see numbers like that! 25 is a lot to plan for! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a teacher desk. Where do you like to organize your plan book while at school?

  30. Love it! Thought about doing it in my ‘closet’ of a room but didn’t have anything to keep computer on. You have given me some ideas, yet again! Thanks! Question though, with the varied sized seating how do you teach the kiddos at the beginning of the year to use it properly? It would help even more to have a table out of my room!

    1. Thanks Melissa! I have to admit my room is no where near closet sized, it really is large. But, I LOVE how much space we truly now have. And it feels like usable space since we spend such little time at tables really! I’m going to assign spaces at the beginning of the year, and rotate them so students try a variety of standing, kneeling and sitting and also see all of the usable spaces within the room. They often find some I never think of – even after 7 years in the same room! If any have difficulty with the idea of choice, when the time comes, those select few will have to earn it with assigned spaces until they do.

      Since I teach K, I assume that teaching them to use the seating properly won’t be too difficult, since most don’t know any different coming in. And just like with anything, they can easily lose their space and I’ll assign one if they can’t handle it.

  31. Love it! I agree with you and only recently had a desk and i never use it as a desk. It becomes a catch all space for everything else. I applaud you and may follow in your footsteps!

  32. I loved reading this Leslie, you are always so thoughtful about how you will carry things out. I’ve been trying out a few new things during the end of our year too…I moved the tables and library around and have been ditching things like crazy! Your room has undergone such an incredible transformation, I hope to achieve that soon!

    I LOVE how you lowered that table. Did you just take the bottom parts of the legs off completely? I’m thinking it would be really neat to try out. I kind of go with what my students like for invented seating and I have a lot who love sitting on the floor–I bet they would love this. Thanks for giving me so much to think about for the end of this year and a very happy summer vacation to you!
    Kristen 🙂

    1. Kristen,
      Thanks for your kind compliments! Thanks for sharing that throwing things away makes you happy too! The tables did have their bottom leg removed with the pads stuck in the opening. My wonderful custodians put up with my requests for lowered tables when I promise not to want to change them 😉 Happy countdown til summer for you dear friend!

  33. Love the new layout…but going from 4 to 2 student tables scares me to death:) I know I would have tons more space if I got rid of my student desk pods…but unfortunately my room isn’t carpeted. But I would love to try something like this. Would you consider posting about how your students handle that, how you explain that to them on the first day of school…just how it all works in your classroom? I know clear as mud right.

    Oceans of First Grade Fun

    1. Thanks Ms. A – I was scared too, really! I’m not sure how I’ll explain it all on the first few days of school… I’ve got more planning ahead of me! But, I’ll see if I can remember to share about how it all goes! 😉 I most likely will assign “spaces” and rotate them until we’ve all explored a variety and understand all of the right ways to use the spaces. I can also use that for student who can’t handle it, will have to earn choosing their own spaces during independent time. (Learned that one within the three trial weeks 😉

  34. You will love not having a teacher’s desk. I gave mine up about 16 years ago. Everyone thought I wa crazy. Now very few teachers in our building have teacher desks.

  35. I haven’t had a teacher-desk in two years. I switched schools and told them “no thanks.” I fear, with my new change (my district has 144 elementary schools alone) that I’ll be stuck with the big boxed demon. I LOVE the fact that you’ve varied your seating heights. This has given me some ideas. At the same time, my district demands every child have a seat/table space. I love the idea of working in various locations within the room, but my space is “tied” down to requirements. LOVE your room!

    1. Thanks for sharing Catherine. Your district is HUGE! I appreciate your comments and they make me thankful that I was able to get permission to move forward with not having a traditional space for each child. With change always come newness – I hope you find some newness that you love as much as I do mine!

  36. I may have 2 people in my classroom this year. They will have to have some closet space for their personal things and shelf space for student needs. Sometimes, we have to take it one step at a time! I had two desks before and felt the same as you! I’d love to read about it if you give it a try!

  37. This looks awesome and it’s exactly what I needed to see/hear! I have been wanting to get rid of my teacher’s desk and then I was told I was moving rooms and the para professional that is moving in is going to have a desk. So I couldn’t imagine having 2 desks in the room! I immediately knew I would get rid of my desk but have my reservations. Now I know it’ll be fine and probably work out even better for me. Now if I could just get rid of her big bulky desk too…one at a time..

    [email protected]

  38. Love this! I’ve really been thinking about the kids not having chairs/tables, but making their own space. I love the independence of it (and the space!!!) I’m even looking at getting rid of my teacher desk. Thanks for the pictures. I’m glad it worked well for you!

    Kinder Kraziness

  39. Your layout looks great! I haven’t had a teacher desk for 3 years now & it usually works out great. I have limited classroom space as it is so it really adds to the space you have. Thanks for sharing all of your pics! You gave me some new ideas for my layout!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

    1. Thanks Lisa! I’m sure it helps other to read about those who have done it and had success – then they know they can do it too! I’m glad to hear how you’ve done it for 3 years and still going!
      Do you still claim a teacher space?

    1. Thanks Laura! I definitely was fearing it too – big time! Planning and thinking things through really helped. I am still working out developing some new habits 😉 I made sure to ask my principal that if I hated it, could I have my desk back! That’s something that made me decide to give it a try – but I’m not asking for it back!

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