Back at the beginning of this school year, I read a few posts on various blogs about giving up the “teacher’s desk” in the classroom as a way to make students feel more like the classroom was as much theirs as it was the teacher’s. While I understood the sentiment, I was also unsure that was the best idea and wrote about it. My main point was basically that as much as students should feel that learning is theirs and the classroom is theirs, teachers shouldn’t feel that they need to give up everything about themselves. I talked about how I have a desk in the corner of my classroom that is exclusively mine, and while I rarely sit behind it (usually because it’s covered in papers but also because I can’t teach sitting down), I’ve also decorated it and the surrounding area with all sorts of stuff that reflects my personality and my interests. A former co-worker of mine referred to it as a “Geek-o-sphere.” I mean, students deck their lockers and book bags and notebooks out with all sorts of random stuff (especially the notebooks, which is why I’m always out of Scotch tape, btw), so why can’t I have some Mets posters and a Mr. T. action figure?
I bring this up (again) because my college’s alumni magazine published a great piece on the offices of various professors on campus. Called “Their Shelves, Their Selves,” it took a diagram-like look at the rooms and all of their clutter and their quirkiness:
Do you really know your professors if you haven’t seen their offices? Loyola magazine paid a visit to a few faculty offices to see how faculty members’ professional interests and personalities define their spaces.
As you head to pack up your classroom in a month or so and then return to unpack and get things set up, think of how much you loved seeing all of the random crap your teachers used to have on the walls when you were in school, or how interesting it was to step into a professor’s office. Then remember that it’s okay to not feel like you have to give up everything.