...or so the advertisement says.
This week, I was fortunate enough to hear from an international expert on ergonomics:
I went into this thinking, "He's going to tell us to get the kids up and moving." And I vowed to not be angry when he said that, as our room and our ELA lessons are very conducive to movement - and even sprawling out on the floor. He came straight from Germany, and I doubt he visited our classrooms or talked with any teachers here first.
When he first started talking about our five (six, really, including balance) senses, I wondered... what does coming into room 239 do for my students? What do they feel when they see this?
Instead of him telling us this, what he did was show what happens when we're in one spot for too long. Listed here are my notes... hang with me as I try to explain some of what he said in the hour he was here.
- What is around us has an impact on our well-being. This could be what weather we wake up to, the people who surround us, and even the look of a room when we walk in. I wondered... what do my students feel when they walk into room 239?
- Daylight is a natural stimulant. And something we lack in fall and winter.
- Fresh air and plants and trees are also natural stimulants. I am SOOOO glad I committed to getting my classes outside as much as I could this year! Not only is it healthier for me personally, but for them as well.
- Body in motion is ALSO a natural stimulant. When we stand still, we're most likely NOT still. We vary our posture to fit our body's needs. We move for stimulation. If not, our discomfort will come into our consciousness, and affect our thinking.
- Sitting still slows down brain activities.
- After 20 min (on average), we (adults) have brain and body fatigue without movement. Ah, yes. As at faculty meetings. Or conferences. Oh, man - especially if we're in folding chairs or on bleacher seats!!
- Sitting = Less blood flow
- Less blood flow = Less oxygen for your body
- Less oxygen for your body = Decrease in neuroplasticity
- Decrease in neuroplasticity = Decrease in problem solving
- Decrease in problem solving = Risk factor for cognitive decline
- It's ALL connected.
- We are made to move regularly - more than six hours a day. Our bodies were not designed to sit still in a chair. As he's sharing all of this, I wonder - how much do I, personally, sit each day? I decided to wear a stopwatch to see. I kept forgetting to turn it on and off. After school, however, I sat for at LEAST 2-3 hours! I did notice that in school, during independent reading time, I either sat on a Hokki stool (where I could keep moving) or on the floor (where I could keep moving).
- Dr. Breithecker called these chairs (that we have in our classrooms) "stupid" chairs. According to his idea of a "stupid" chair, these the wood ones I have in our class are also stupid. They don't let students MOVE, and they're "one size fits ... no one."
- Students with ADHD often don't release enough dopamine - MOVEMENT releases dopamine.
- If there is no necessity to sit, it's not smart to sit.
- The ability to pay attention increases when given the opportunity to move.
Hopefully the fact that Dr. Brithecker was invited to speak to us means schools are considering changing their furniture to best fit our student population. I am so thankful that my ELA teaching counterpart / friend / "work wife" was there with me! What a valuable hour of professional development. We volunteer to host the next classroom furniture replacements! 👍
What have I already done in regards to furniture? I signed up for a class years ago to learn about flexible furniture (and then be awarded with it), but didn't get in. I won one Hokki stool at the ICE convention the year I was a featured speaker (that one might come home with me when I retire). I've put in a few grants for Hokki stools. (The last one got approved - TWELVE of them! I kept four and the others are in other classrooms.) I tried to use my yearly "supplies" budget for a few better chairs, but I was informed that I could not request furniture - even if it was under budget. I'm tired of asking for furniture. I'm tired of bringing in my own, and buying some of my own (yoga balls have busted, a small rocking chair and a wooden stool - both from Goodwill - broke early in their careers).
Not-so-side notes: Our newer classrooms from the remodel of our school received new flexible furniture. I have my parent's old rocking chair, my co-teacher's old gaming chair, a garage sale swivel stool, my grandpa's old swivel & rolling office chair, old tables and chairs from our re-furnished library (which hosted fundraisers for money for new flexible furniture - can we, as teachers, do this?!), and cushions galore [three inflatable (more grant money), fifteen foam bleacher seats from Home Depot ($2.50 each on sale), and six outdoor cushions from Goodwill ($3 each)]. I know it to be true - Education is the profession where we bring supplies from home TO work.
What's next? I'll keep planning activities that get students up and moving, I'll keep building in breaks throughout our lessons, and there's no way I'm getting rid of cushions and floor space to sprawl. I'll keep the casters on the tables so they're easier to move. I'll continue to keep at least one table shorter than the rest. And, of course, I'm hoping for an overhaul of the furniture that is currently in room 239 as soon as possible (and before I retire).
How about some photos of our eclectic room 239???
|Papa's office chair|
|Why sit on the rocking chair, when you can sit on the foot stool?|
|He's sitting on the foot stool, using the chair as his desk.|
|Foot stool as stomach flattener...?|
|Rocking chair + foot stool|
If you'd like to see more of our class in action, check out the parent tab on our Weebly for videos.
An old teacher chair? Sure!
Sometimes a couple of $3 Goodwill cushions are all we need...
The floor IS a favorite sprawling place for some...
And sometimes, we feel like reading in a tight corner of the room...
Oh, my goodness. As soon as I added all these photos, I remembered a post I wrote in 2012!!
(If you have already read Shift This, you may find this older post familiar for a different reason!)
Comments about YOUR learning spaces are very welcomed below. Thank you for reading this far - let's get our kids MOVING! I hope that long gone are the days of saying, "Sit still."