I am reading Ralph Fletcher’s book Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook. I’m a little late to this book published in 1996. But it’s special to me because Ralph himself signed it this past November at NCTE. If you’ve never read any of Ralph’s books about writing, I highly recommend them. This one in particular is full of ideas, but it’s also full of Ralph’s voice. I could listen to him all day long.
In the first chapter, “A Place to Write,” Ralph writes about the things on his desk. This prompted me to write about my teacher desk.
There’s been a movement among teachers to get rid of the teacher desk. I suppose the idea is for the teacher to be more active, wandering among her students or sitting at a table designed for group meetings. I get that, but I can’t get rid of my teacher desk, not yet. It holds too many precious things. Gifts from students.
- Sweet Pea body lotion
- Two message rocks: “If you have the choice of being right or being kind, be kind.” “You Rock!” with a painted smiley face
- A glass bear holding a red heart, “The Joy that you give to others is the Joy that comes back to you.”
- Coffee container painted by Emily with our class theme “Mrs. Simon’s Sea”
- Wooden pencil holder hand-made by Andrew’s father
- A paper flower from Erin
- Practical stuff: box of tissues, tape, stapler, paper clips, grade book, current read-aloud, cups of pens, pencils, markers, and hand sanitizer
After writing about my teacher desk, I realize that this space holds meaning. It is the center of our classroom. Often a student will prop a laptop right next to me. Once a student called this area the zone of learning. Voluntarily, they find a comfort in being close to me.
My notebook is here on my desk. The one Ralph talks about in his book. The place I breathe into, write alongside my students, make observations, discover poems. Like Ralph says, your notebook is a room of your own, a space that is alive to even the barest suggestion of light.
What is on your writing desk? Do you still have a teacher desk? Spaces take on the meaning we assign to them. My desk, my notebook, my classroom are sacred spaces for sharing, learning, and finding Joy.