One of the great things about fifth graders is they speak their minds.
More than once last year, I got called out for having a clean desk. When my desk was clean, they knew one of the following things would be happening soon:
1) I would be out and they'd have a guest teacher.
2) I was going to be observed by my administration.
3) We'd have visitors from another school.
If one of those things was happening, my desk was spotless.
Any other day, it was a different story.
I don't start out with the intention of a cluttered desk. But as the day progresses, students place extra copies of papers there, notes are turned in, and by the time I notice, it's covered in papers.
I don't spend my time with my students cleaning or tidying. I spend my time being in the moment, immersed in their learning opportunities. I won't apologize for that.
I try to tidy it before/after school, but I have an open door policy and usually some other teacher is in my room venting/problem solving/chatting. Again, I won't apologize for being there for others. In the scope of my responsibilities as a teacher, having a spotless desk is quite low on my to do list, ranking right above filing student nurse pass slips in alphabetical order.
Growing up, I had a desk in my room. I had grand ideas of how it would be decorated and that I'd sit there, every night, doing my homework.
That's not what happened. It became a dumping ground for things and I'd do my work in a chair, in bed, or laying on the floor.
That's simply not the case. I'm not a desk person. That didn't change when I became a teacher.
Don't get me wrong, I love the look of this:
But that's not my reality.
I will sit at my desk to input grades...and that's about it.
I don't sit there to take attendance. I don't sit there and teach from my seat. I don't even sit there and grade. Instead, my desk is a catch-all spot for paperwork and holds up my computer. If I had the option to get rid of it, I would, but that's not in the cards...yet.
So instead of snapping at my students over their mess, I provide opportunities to clean and practice organization. Being tidy and organized is not something that comes naturally to everyone, so why would I expect it naturally from all of my students?
It's one of my goals to be more organized this year. I think a change in grade levels will mean people won't just bring me papers in the middle of the day. I'm hopeful that less copies (28 of everything instead of 40) will also make a difference. I'm hopeful that more notebooks will mean less copies of papers.
Stay tuned for how operation #cleandesk will unfold!