One thing we get asked quite a bit is to show our offices and the systems that work for us. Both of our spaces are relatively small compared to other offices we’ve seen, so designing a practical and pretty space took some creativity and planning. We hope to show you how to make your area useful for the various duties a principal takes on in a day while still being able to show off your style and feel like you!
I’ve had the same style in my office for the past 7 years now. But, like most things that don’t have to do with students, staffing or instruction, this ‘re-do’ kept getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. That was until I pulled out a drawer this Spring and my entire desk split into two pieces. I’m going to go ahead and say COVID had something to do with it–that’s been my motto in 2020, when in doubt, blame COVID. So a summer update to my office organization got jumped to the top of the list.
Enter this small corner space saver desk!
Prior to this, I had an L-Shaped desk that came out from the wall. It had a lot of storage and working space, but also crowded my office and didn’t give much opportunity for collaboration or hosting more than one person at a time.
This desk has much less storage than my previous desk, but the totes made nice additions to put my supplies. There is a file cabinet at the bottom that I store my frequently used folders–for group meetings, policies, professional development resources for this year, student files not containing sensitive materials, etc. I also have all of my professional books that are ‘in line’ to be read soon behind the glass partition. Whenever I get a new read, I am putting it there–once I’ve read it I can decide if it gets to stay in my office for frequent reference or move to the conference room where I store additional professional books. Last year, I made it a priority to diversify the literature I shared with students and staff, to grow their own library. I like to display the ones I plan to debut–I’ve found it’s a nice talking point when teachers are in my office. I also keep a stack of student picture books on a nearby bookshelf (see below), to reference when a teachable moment in my office arises. I find using books to tackle topics like race, class, gender, sexuality and disabilities more poignant than a lecture with a student.
Also on my desk I post our school goals right behind my two monitors. It makes my work space look more cluttered, sure, but it helps me to keep my focus on what matters and repeat our shared purpose constantly. I’ll add that two monitors is something I never knew I needed but can now never live without.
With shrinking my desk, I knew I needed an option to collaborate with others and spread out if I needed to tackle a project myself. Luckily I stumbled upon this table that fit my style and price point and was actually in stock! The plastic chairs go with the vibe but also can be cleaned easily when I host student lunches or entertain a toddler for a few moments while visiting with a parent.
My new desk also didn’t come with a locking unit, so I needed to add a cabinet to fit my needs. I keep all of the confidential staff and student information here because those are files I access the most throughout my work day. I’ve moved additional files I just like to keep on reference (non-sensitive materials) in our work room filing cabinet.
I have two bookshelves to hold the professional literature I reference the most (doing a deep clean on the books you keep in your office is a great tip, also, because it helps you find old gems you forgot you had)! I also need a place to put all my decorative this’s and that’s and some personal photos, so these two shelves do the trick!
I also keep student tools on the bottom two shelves. This includes coloring and writing tools, connecting blocks, play doh, stuffed animals, calming tools and more. I find this to be exceptionally helpful in our elementary setting, but my husband in middle school also keeps materials handy to let students fidget while they visit.
Prior to this summer, my walls were a lovely cream with one teal accent wall. I really wanted the white to pop and my fabulous secretary and art teacher worked together to pick me this color–it’s a dark gray that can look navy. I inherited the carpet, so I’m trying to make it work!
Of course, I had to get this pink office chair just to make sure my personality shined through. If you’re going to spend 12 hours a day at work, work should probably feel a little like you!
Funding is always an issue when you are looking to revise your office vibe. Some of the furniture came out of my budget, but a lot came from my personal budget. That way, I can reuse it in my home office in the future. The summer paint crew would typically help me with a fresh coat of paint, but they are pretty backed up this summer. So I commissioned one of my amazing and talented teachers to help and she graciously agreed!
My office is one of the smaller administrator’s offices I have seen, but it’s quaint, and I make it work! I came from an office that was the size of a classroom, and I had plenty of room for teams to collaborate, and even a couch and a coffee table. You’ll find this space to be MUCH smaller, and I had to be a lot more creative with placement and be aggressive with purging.
My desk had been updated just a year or so before I came to the school, so I kept it. However, there were lots of heavy and tall bookcases and dark curtains. The blinds are a navy blue, and I chose to somewhat ignore them and didn’t worry about incorporating them into the color scheme.
All the other furniture other than the desk I provided on my own. Fortunately, I had most of it from other offices, and the guest chairs are from a room in my house that didn’t work anymore. My dad had owned a restaurant a while back and had several of the white tables, so I use them all over the building, ha! I keep a stack of books next to the guest chairs for kids to read if they are waiting on me or if a parent brings a little guest. I also had a friend make a personalized coloring page of our mascot for younger sibling guests, and it’s so fun! On the table, I keep tissues, mints, and a file of notebook paper, blank paper, and scrap paper – it’s helpful to have it at hand for a brainstorming session or a student who needs something to write out her thoughts or a visual for processing.
I also recently added locked file storage to my office with the middle file cabinet, which is a hand-me-down from a family member. I like that it’s short and I can reach it seated. I anchored it with shorter cheap book shelves, and I organize my books by color in my office and my home! I keep a white board of important info like schedules and phone numbers, and the other book shelve is “randoms” – Good News Call bracelets, teacher give-aways, and ALL the binders.
On my file cabinet, I keep a tray with a filtered water pitcher and folders for each of my committees. While most of our notes and items are digital, there are usually paper needs or copies, and when I have a folder for each committee, I can prepare and place copies in advance and then grab and go at the time of the meeting.
An organizational hack that works for me includes clipboards that I keep by my desk that are labeled for in process investigations and paperwork. It helps me to know where I am in the different processes when interruptions occur throughout the day and week.
Thanks for joining our office tour! What questions do you have for us? What are must-haves in your office space?!