What began as an attempt to meet the needs of a specific student who requires a lot of movement throughout the school day, ended up benefitting an entire class, and its teachers.
Heather Thompson, a Grade Five Teacher at Calgary Christian School, received a Stand2Learn Standing Desk for use in her classroom in February 2017. And, according to her, it came “at the perfect time.”
“Initially, our class was selected to use the desk for a student who needs movement in order to focus,” she says. “This particular student had a core ball at his desk, and it had popped, so we needed something different.”
But the arrival of the standing desk has helped more than just the one student. “All the students actually enjoy using it, so it’s now an option for all of them,” says Thompson, who co-teaches the class with colleague Krista Makila.
In the ten years that she has been teaching, Thompson has definitely noticed an increased need for frequent activity and movement breaks in the classroom. “Many students find it difficult to sit for long periods of time, so to have an option that allows them to continue to work and focus in a different position is very beneficial,” she says.
“Having more options available for listening and working means less of the day-dreaming and fidgeting that tends to happen while sitting at their desks for much of the day,” adds Makila.
Both of these experienced teachers know that there are any number of creative ways an educator can help meet the physical needs of kids in the classroom, but many of the solutions available can actually be more distracting than helpful.
“The core ball chair, although great for students that can benefit from gentle and constant movement while at their desks, can easily become a distraction if the students begin to use it as a bouncer,” says Thompson.
Handheld manipulatives can also occasionally cause problems. While a Rubik’s cube, a fidget spinner or a stress ball can help keep a student’s hands engaged, allowing them to focus their attention on the subject matter at hand, some of these often make little noises that can actually be quite disruptive in a classroom of 24 students. There is also a risk that students who don’t really require the handheld stimulation are simply using the devices to play during lesson time.
Incorporating the desk into the classroom routine didn’t take very long at all and both teachers are pleased with how well the students adapted to the expectations that came with it.
“As long as we’re not in the middle of a lesson, the students are welcome to ask permission to use the desk pretty much any time during the day,” says Thompson. “They tend to make pretty quick transitions to the standing desk, so there are no distractions.”
The bright and airy classroom has a spacious feel and, in addition to desk groupings, offers a comfortable sofa and carpet area, as well as the standing desk, which is situated in a place where it can be pulled into the action, or moved to the corner, so as to provide some separation from the hub of classroom activities.
“The students are welcome to position it for what they need,” says Thompson, adding that some students prefer to be a bit removed from the noise and busyness that can often characterize parts of the day.
Students are allowed to use the desk two at a time and both Thompson and Makila find that everyone who wants to use it through the course of a day usually has a chance to.
While the students enjoy the novelty of the desk and being able to work in a different physical position, the teachers are also seeing the benefits in day-to-day classroom life and often will employ it just to change things up for the students.
“When we notice that a student is getting restless or distracting in the place they are in, sometimes we’ll suggest that they move to the standing desk just for a change of scenery,” says Thompson.
The desk also serves as a great hub for group work, as it can easily accommodate a number of students around the perimeter. Though a seemingly small thing, the central footrest also provides an element of movement as it allows the students to shift position and posture even while standing.
We asked a couple of students to provide their thoughts on the Stand2Learn desk also and here’s what they had to say:
“When you’re always sitting, your legs get sore, so this gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs and when you’re higher up it helps your posture.”
~Tavia, Grade 5
“I like it because if you’re always sitting down your legs get tired and it allows me to move around more, which helps me to learn better.”
~Nathan, Grade 5
Both Thompson and Makila love that their students now have another option that they really seem to enjoy, enhances their focus, and is a great fit within their classroom environment. As a teacher, you can’t ask for more than that.
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