My students surprise me every day. I never know what's they're going to say or do, and that's one of the perks of the job. One of the biggest surprises is all the different ways they position themselves while they're learning. They kneel, lean, perch, and pivot--in their chairs, of course. One student swivels around, sitting crosslegged and backward in his chair.
This year my class is made up of 29 nine- and ten-year-old children.
As fourth graders, they're taking the first steps on their journey from childhood to adolescence, and this is what makes fourth grade the very best grade to teach. Kids this age have figured out how to tell a joke and tie their shoes. They're familiar with sarcasm and can read their teacher's facial expressions. They're not too old to enjoy a picture book or show genuine excitement, however, and they still think their teacher knows everything.
Our classroom has one wobble chair and 29 standard purple classroom chairs. The wobble chair gets used every day; kids request it by name and clamor to use it. It's a coveted item, and that's because the lucky child using it can slump, slouch, lean, and rock while learning. The other kids sit in a purple chair or on one of the white Ikea stools I have in the classroom. They do their best to turn these chairs into wobble chairs too. In fact, I have had to get rid of a couple of the white stools because they became unstable from so much leaning. It's not safe or effective for learning.
Spend any amount of time with a child, and you'll begin to wonder if there's a way to harness some of that excess energy they seem to possess.
It's not a choice, either; it's a necessity. They learn better when they can safely move and shift their bodies into different positions. Safe alternative seating choices, including wobble chairs for wigglers and lap desks and floor cushions for floor sitters, allow students to expend energy, sit comfortable, and learn and collaborate more effectively. My students need a few more wobble chairs and lap desks (for those who feel most comfortable close to the ground). This will improve the ergonomic quality of the physical learning environment in our classroom.
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