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4 Teacher Desk Alternatives to Try When You Ditch the Desk

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

With all the back problems that can be caused by sitting, not to mention the sitting we have all done during the pandemic, the question “should I have a teacher desk?” is coming up more and more these days. As you’re setting up your classroom, are you wondering if it’s time to say goodbye and what you can use instead of a teacher desk? 

Going desk-free as a teacher isn’t new, and that’s a good thing — we’ve got some tips and alternatives to the teacher desk that will help you make the decision to desk or not to desk this school year! 

Should You Have a Teacher Desk?

Teachers have had desks for well, pretty much forever. So if you’re thinking, well of course I should have a teacher desk, there are certainly good reasons to stick with it. Why reinvent the wheel, right? 

But try something for us, would you? Sit down at your desk right now, have a look around. Create a pile of things that haven’t been used at all, or that you really don’t NEED to do your job. Surprised?

Of course, there are always going to be items that you will need to have on hand in the classroom (we’ll get there). But, going desk-free is actually doable, liberating, and there are a number of benefits too. Still unsure? Stay with us …

(1) More Space and Flexibility

Most of the old-school teacher desks are big and cumbersome. Surprisingly, even though you are just getting rid of one piece of furniture, you’ll notice right away the extra learning space you’ll create by ditching your desk. Whether you are trying out flexible seating in the classroom or using student desks, removing a large teacher desk will give you more space to set up your classroom the way you want!

Flexible seating in the classroom

(2) Limits Clutter and Prevents Paper Mountains

The teacher desk is often a clutter magnet, not to mention the paperwork that comes across a teacher’s desk daily. When I was teaching I had all the right intentions to keep my desk in an organized state, but it never stayed like that.

No need to spend your Friday afternoons cleaning your desk when you don’t have one to worry about!

(3) Gets You Out and Social

Ok, you won’t have a problem picturing this…

The craziness of the morning is over and the kids are happily at lunch. You grab your lunch and without hesitation sit back at your desk to eat your lunch and start to grade the pile of papers that are collecting. Here’s the thing — the work can wait.

Without a desk, you are more likely to head to the teacher’s lounge and have a break, away from the classroom. This is good for you mentally and also allows you to have more professional conversations with your colleagues. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel by having a small break and debriefing with another teacher!

(4) Removes a Barrier

As teachers, we know the importance of having a student-centered classroom. For some teachers who don’t necessarily use their desk during the day, this may not become an issue. For me, when I was teaching, I would often find myself heading over to my teacher desk and getting caught in the habit of teacher-to-student engagement from my desk. My desk sort of became a ‘safe’ zone. By removing my teacher desk, I may not have fallen into this trap!

Sarah from @teacherishappy also shares a similar experience…

(5) Ups Your Step Count!

So, it’s a well-known fact that a teacher’s step count is up there with the highest number of steps in a day.

But, imagine what ditching your desk would do to your step count? Aim to break records…

Teacher Desk Alternatives

(1) Storage Solutions for Desk Free Teachers

You now have an excuse to get one of the famous Ikea utility cart (The Raskog). 

Pair it with some of those colorful drawers that you can get at most craft stores, and you have a place to store all of those essential items you may need to access throughout the school day!

We love this set up by @thatcrazycreativeteacher.

How to go desk free as a teacher

(2) Get a Super Comfy Teacher Chair

We’re not saying you have to be on your feet all day! For those times you need to sit down, make sure you have a super comfy ‘teacher chair’ in your classroom.

There’s no need to break the budget either; @r8chie re-covered her teacher chair and we absolutely love it!!

Teacher chair re-vamp

(3) DIY Teacher Apron

This idea may change your life in the classroom. Create your very own teacher apron that can store all of those necessary items that would have otherwise gotten lost on top of your teacher desk!


(4) Standing Desk / Teaching Pod

Do you still have a computer to store somewhere but are willing to give up the old-school teacher desk? @teacherishappy has just gone desk free and she is using a teaching pod!

Check out her set up…

Teacher is happy went desk free

Hot tip from @giftedandtalentedteacher is to get a standing desk to get the best of both worlds!

Teacher desk alternatives

If you have been thinking of giving away the traditional teacher desk set-up… be brave and give it a shot!

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences!

Cover image: ViDi Studio/


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