From Desked to Deskless in Wildcat Spanish

The 2014-2015 school year was my first foray into the deskless classroom. I was a little nervous, but I wanted space for my reading lounge and flexible seating was the only way to do it.

My room at the time looked GREAT with chairs and pillow case pouches!photo-4-4.jpg

It was an adjustment! The pillowcase pouches were always falling off, the clipboards would turn up with graffiti, and the markers in the marker boxes would end up in other people’s pouches. I decided that they were too much trouble and the next year didn’t use them.

When I started a new job in the 2016-2017 school year, I went back to desks for a short time.  It was hard to get used to the amount of space they take up after 2 years of freedom!


My second year, I decided to ask for chairs and folding tables like I’d had in my old classroom. The admin was on board and I put together a collection of unused chairs from the cafeteria and tables from the storage room!

This year, they got me (and 2 other teachers) these beautiful new chairs!


When people switch to a deskless classroom, they often wonder how students write. For me it is simple! We store these folding tables at the back of the room and pull them out any time we need to do a writing assessment, centers, or other tabletop heavy activity!


The great thing about the tables is that I can set them up in any format I want! From a horseshoe to have a panel type discussion to individual table “islands” for group work, it is a quick set up and tear down.

The chairs have the added benefit of letting us turn to face one another easily with no barrier between. Our interpersonal communication is a lot more natural when we can easily move chair to chair and are free of desktops!

The best part, though, is that chairs can easily be stacked at the side leaving the whole room open! This allows us to utilize the floor space for some of my favorite activities like Floor Memory, Circle the Wagons, and MapTalks.


If you’re thinking of going deskless or have already done it, share your experience!


Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

One thought

  1. I would LOVE to be able to go deskless! I tried it at the beginning of this school year and I loved what it did in terms of preventing bandito cellphone use, sleeping,and doing other stuff. However, I have to share my classroom with another teacher. It was too much for her and her students. She needed the “comfort structure” that desks seem to give and so I had to accommodate, by going back to having desks. My dream is to not have to share my room anymore- I’ve had to for almost 6 years now- so I could have a room that would foster acquisition better.

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