The Upset With Teacher Offices

There aren’t enough desks for teachers. How can we expect them to be productive, efficient, grade our assignments on time, and create lesson plans when they don’t have the proper work space or environment? Teachers seem to be either cramped in one office or spread out, working in different classrooms or separate offices searching for empty and quiet spaces. The reasoning behind department offices is for convenience—to have all teachers, books, and textbooks in one space. If students need to meet with a teacher or make up a test, spending time searching for a quiet space, or sitting in a distracting office with a department full of teachers also trying to work, is not the best use of one’s time. 

After an intensive math class, I often find myself confused and in need of extra help, like many students at Poly. It’s not uncommon to seek help, so I sprint to the first floor and burst through the welcoming doors of the math office. This office is huge, spanning the width of the entire first floor, including desks for every math teacher with additional space for students to take tests, meet with teachers, and study alongside a room full of support. My eyes frantically dart around the office, searching for my calculus guardian angel, Ms. Liao. She’s not here. But I have a test tomorrow. I catch Dr. Sharma and I run over to him. “Do you know where Ms. Liao is?” I’m on the verge of tears. “She’s in a meeting,” he says. “But I can try to help you out.” I look up and a wave of relief washes over me. This is  an extremely realistic example of a scenario I find myself in quite often. It’s amazing to have a room full of teachers in one place in case I need help. 

However, having all teachers in a department in one room is not always ideal. For example, take the history office. It’s a charming, oak lined, book covered nook that also must serve as a place to take a makeup test. Noise is the first problem. I don’t want to take my teacher away from their desk and computer, but in a crowded and overfilled room, as a student it’s hard to focus, so I can only imagine how the teachers must feel. 

This applies even to the math office, too. 

After speaking with a few of the history teachers, despite the advantages of an endless supply of books and teachers who can help bounce ideas off of each other in one office, there are also physical constraints. 

“Ms. Beiles is kind of squeezed in between Mx. Blanford and Dr. Shmookler and these are just the upper school teachers not counting Mr. Sivin who has his own office,” History teacher Dr. Virginia Dillon notes. 

There are teachers whose desks can’t even fit in the office, so they must search for alternative accommodations. This may include looking for an empty classroom, having a separate office, or having a semi-permanent desk in a classroom. As one can assume, this is not ideal. Searching for a classroom is only a temporary solution to a long-term problem, and it wastes precious time. Also, who knows when the next class will have to take over the workspace. It is essential to have an environment that will allow productive behavior. After I spend weeks working on an essay, I know my teachers would like to sit down and go through the work without distractions, but it cannot always be done. 

Another problem that arose was mess and organization, specifically in the English department office. There is a lack of shelves, as expressed by English teacher Rebekah Delaney. I have personally been to the English department, and, frankly; I have been quite overwhelmed by the abundance of people, books, and supplies. “In terms of a productive space, to be able to do our work, it’s not conducive to that because there’s not enough room for all of us,” said Delaney. Not to mention, there is no space for students to meet with teachers. The teachers deserve enough room to effectively complete their work and feel comfortable. 

 Department offices are the center of so many resources all in one space, but overcrowding may hinder the benefits. Ultimately, a balance must be reached between common space and quiet space, not one extreme or the other.