Stand Up and Do Your Work

This semester, two new pieces of furniture are causing quite the stir in room 004. OK, they’re not new. They’re what can euphemistically be described as vintage. I won’t say they’re as old as the WPA-era building I call home, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking new furniture is in the budget.

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Go ahead and ignore the completely blank bulletin board in the background. It’s a work in progress. For the past year or so. Stop judging me.

I’ve succumbed to the craze that swept through corporate America something approximately ten years ago (I’m not a trend-setter) and introduced standing desks to my classroom.

Standing desks have found a home in elementary schools; I’ve seen them in action. I haven’t, however, seen standing desks at the secondary level outside of special education resource rooms. I can only venture a guess as to why. Preliminary studies hint at potential cognitive (and possibly academic) benefits in adolescents, but in my experience and observations, the concept hasn’t made its way to the standard 7th-12th grade learning environment just yet.

Lack of I’m nothing if not “that weird teacher in the basement who does weird basement teacher things on a semi-educated whim,” though, so the second this idea popped into my head, I sprang into immediate, enthusiastic action. I may have been avoiding grading some papers, actually.

Once I stole borrowed a set of Allen wrenches from the  wood shop, it was an easy fix. Students arrived in the classroom to start the new semester and looked with mild curiosity at the new rearrangement of resources. They’re used to my frequent rearrangement of classroom furniture.

After going over the behavior expectations for the desks (which boil down to “it’s a desk, but without a chair, so just follow all of the regular classroom rules while using it”), I went about the business of the day… but I kept an eye on the desks.

After an initial flurry of interest and some occasional arguments over who got to use them first, we settled back into our regular routine and I was able to make a few long-ish-term (well… one month) observations:

  • two of my more challenging students gravitate towards the desks
  • one student sometimes works with his leg up the desk… but he works diligently and without his usual muttering
  • several students have no interest in the desks whatsoever
  • one student that I desperately wish would use the standing desks has yet to try it out on his own
  • I like doing mundane prep tasks (putting stickers on computers, for example) at the desks
  • I prefer grading student work sitting down
  • The standing desks work really well for student collaboration

In all: success. Nothing world-changing or life-altering, but they’re a nice, easy addition to my classroom that makes a small difference at virtually no disadvantage to me.

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