This post inspired by the article:

Glendale schools ban teachers’ personal coffeepots and fridges
By Raja Abdulrahim March 3, 2009,0,3863348.story

“District officials say removing appliances such as microwaves and coffee makers will save $60,000 a year. The ban has upset some teachers who depend on the items to get through their day…”

“Sharon Schara, a teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Glendale, poses with the fridge, microwave and stereo she keeps in her classroom…”

Those who have known me for a while have invariably heard me talk about the subject of “teacher nests”. What exactly is a “teacher nest”?

A “teacher nest” is where the teacher has created a comfortable haven for just her in the classroom. The classic nest generally includes a “wall” made up of the desk, computer and stacks of books and paper; lots of non-instructionally related knic-knacks; a comfortable chair brought from home; and a coffee pot, refrigerator and microwave. The teacher has created a home away from home, or in other words, a nest.

Are nests comfortable? Yes. Do nests make a long day more bearable? Yes. Are nests good for instruction? No.

Fooled you on that one, didn’t I? Stay with me on this, because I’m going to make my case.

This is why “teacher nests” are bad for instruction. The nest is comfortable and as humans we are drawn to comfort. Don’t believe me, what would you rather do? Run five miles or sit and watch your favorite TV show while eating your favorite dessert? The problem with having a comfortable spot in the classroom is that the teacher is drawn to it instead of being drawn to the teaching zone. As time in the teaching zone decreases, student on-task behavior decreases, engagement decreases and retention decreases. All instructionally bad things, just for the sake of teacher comfort. Remove the nest and teachers spend more time in the teaching zone and on-task behavior, engagement and retention all increase.

Still skeptical, analysis of over 30,000 R4 Hyper-Monitoring observations show a strong inverse correlation between teacher nests and time spent in the teaching zone. Despite initial teacher protests to the contrary, actions do speak louder than words.

Teacher nest were already expensive instructionally, now throw in the energy cost and case to actively seek them out and remove them gets even stronger.

And to Ms. Schara, the teacher in the article, in the short run your room will seem less hospitable to you, but quickly you will notice the improvement in your students and it will all be worth it.

Your turn…