On our first full day at La Mansion, we spent a better part of an hour talking with Robert and he is quite the character. He's a "let me tell you a story" kind of a guy. And before you know it, one story turns into two, turns into twelve and now you've just spent over an hour listening to his life story, which is nothing short of fascinating. Robert is an old Italian guy from Brooklyn. If you want to try to picture him in your mind, think celebrity chef Robert Irvine but with a Brooklyn accent instead of a British accent. He used to be a very successful business man in New York, but guys he did business with? Let's just say he's lucky to still be alive today. He came to Costa Rica because 9/11 took such a toll on him that he couldn't handle the stress of the city anymore. Robert is one of those people every writer dreams of meeting because he's a character that is just begging to grace the pages of someone's work of fiction.
|Robert's office was the hotel lobby, always making himself available to guests|
I know Katherine Sokolowski has written about getting rid of her teacher desk, and I like her reasoning behind it, but at the time, I still wasn't entirely convinced I was ready to do it. In fact, I'm still not entirely ready, for the simple fact that I share a classroom and I don't think it's fair to tell my teaching partner (who uses the space in the morning and I use it in the afternoon), "Hey, I want to get rid of this desk. What do you think about that?" But, even without actually physically removing the desk from the room, I can find ways to stop chaining myself to it when kids are working quietly (or not so quietly). I can make a commitment to immerse myself in the classroom space rather than holing myself up behind my desk. I can make sure to interact with students rather than always "taking a break" when I'm done "on stage." And I can plant a seed and encourage other teachers to stop using their desk as a crutch the way I have been.
So here's me planting a seed: I challenge all teachers -- and administrators! -- to really think about what the posture of sitting behind a desk says to students and staff. What could we do to better foster relationships if we made ourselves available in a shared space instead of our personal, "off-limits" space? I am challenging myself to do this for the upcoming school year and I hope you will join me.
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