When I am tired my teacher desk looks like a wonderful refuge.  From there I can view students, catch-up on some small minor administrative tasks, and perhaps get grading done.  Caution!  There are downsides.  For one, the computer can be (and usually is) a distraction.  The Internet and, of course, e-mail takes our attention away from ensuring are students learning, especially when our email has an alert where  a bubble pops up for every new incoming message.

Do effective teachers sit at their desks throughout class?  I would argue they don’t.  I recently had my ed. students list one teacher.  Then I asked the students to evaluate their effectiveness with a simple 1-10 ranking.  Finally, I had the students put a % of time they perceived that teacher was mobile, i.e. standing in front of the class, walking around, monitoring student learning, answering questions, addressing concerns, building rapport, etc.  The findings were conclusive.  Teachers that received effective to highly effective scores had mobility of 80-95%, meaning 80-95% of class time the teacher was mobile.  The ineffective teachers had mobility of >60%. 

It’s clear that teachers that were closer to the learning environment were making a bigger impact on student achievement then those teachers who routinely assign work to the students then sit behind their desks. 

My advice to student teachers is to avoid the teacher’s desk all together.  Don’t even tempt yourself.  If you find yourself plumped down at the desk, then simply remove it.  Push it against the wall.  Use it for your paperwork and office supplies.  This has worked for me.  When I do have time during class to grade or do paperwork, then I will sit with the students in a random desk.  It puts me right where the learning is, allowing me to quickly respond to student misunderstanding, and misbehavior. 

Try it today.  Lose the teacher desk and burn some additional calories.