The DESK System

Determine the Issues

Emotions Involved

Strategies to Move Forward

Keep Regulated

Teachers are using our DESK system with their students to help them recognize the role that emotions play in learning.  
DESK builds social and emotional skills, specifically DESK:

  • Teaches students to recognize and name theire emotions

  • Students learn to identify activities or events when these emotions occur

  • Perhaps most importantly, students learn strategies to regulate their emotions

DESK worksheets are designed for Elementary or Middle/High School Students and are available on TeacherPayTeachers.

Using DESK in the classroom
Best Practices on how Teachers are using the DESK system

Step 1: Identify your students

All of your students will benefit from the DESK system.

Full class:  As students work at different levels, we recommend introducing the sheets as a whole and allowing students to complete the sheets as best they can. These skills build over time and there is no “right” answer. The same sheets can be used again, as students build their skills you can move onto other sheets and ideas.  

Selected students:  Some teachers have started small by trying it out with a few students who need the emotional regulation support the most.  Our suggestion is to identify the students who need the most support and introduce it to them first.  Then, once they’ve learned it, they can help introduce it to the rest of the class!  They become your DESK helpers.

Step 2:  Pick an area to start

Choose an activity from one of the DESK sections based on the level of your student(s.) If you know your students are having trouble naming emotions, start with the Emotion section.  If your students have a little more skill, start with the activities that help them understand what is driving their emotions. There is no wrong way to use the worksheets.  You know your students the best!

Step 3: Find the right time to use DESK

Build the DESK system into your daily routine.  We have had great success using this system with morning work or as an activity in homeroom with our students.  We find that it set the tone for the day. Beginning the day with DESK helps you to get information from your students about how they are feeling. Adding this knowledge right out of the gate helps you plan and anticipate possible issues before they emerge.  Really there is no wrong way to implement DESK.  It also can be used as a whole class lesson first thing in the morning. Most teachers find that time on learning increases as students learn to regulate their emotions.


Will you fix everyone in the first week?  Probably not.  You will make progress and your kids will learn to understand and manage their emotions. Like any activity the more you keep working on it and stay positive the better the results.  Change is hard.  Change it possible! The results are worth the effort.