Won't Students "Forget" How to Sit in Desks Next Year?
I am so grateful for the courageous educators that have had the guts to ask this question. It has usually come from teachers in the grades above mine, and they come from a place of humility but uncertainty.
THANK YOU for starting this dialogue. THANK YOU for coming out of your comfort zone to create a space for conversation. THANK YOU for doing it in a way that is respectful and inquisitive. I hope that all of you will have the chance to start this dialogue at your school. Will there be opposition when you start flexible seating in your classroom? Absolutely. Does it have to divide a staff? Of course not.
So, here's the typical question: "Won't students forget how to sit in their desks next year?"
This question is twofold for me. I hope that even if you have an opinion different than my own, you will respond to this post with gentleness and be willing to start a dialogue. Your opinion is important to me!
1: My first thought when asked that is “Why do they need to be at a desk the entire day the next year?" Aside from the security of testing and practicing that during benchmarks, etc. does every activity need to be done at a desk? Are we only conditioning our students for testing? Are we going to put them at a desk for the entire year just for two days of testing? Let's say you do have a classroom full of desks. How can you foster a space that includes your students in its design and choice in how they complete some of their work?
2. I find that my students actually take much more ownership over wherever they are sitting and are able to adapt to many more seating spaces. They also know that sometimes they don’t have a choice of where they sit, like my small group table for example. We discuss that it might not be their favorite, but sometimes choice is not an option. Whatever setting they might be in during the day (lunch, library, intervention pull-out, etc.), there are expectations for each, just like in our room. We follow those expectations because we always expect the best for ourself. Next year, regardless of your classroom, I expect the best. And I know you'll always make me proud. You will teach your students the expectations of your classroom just like I taught them the expectations of my deskless classroom. Clear, consistent expectations. Students are flexible. They've got this. Let's give them some more credit.
A deskless classroom doesn't mean that classroom management completely goes out the window. In fact, I believe the opposite. You need to completely up your classroom management game because you are managing the classroom, but also working with students on how to make those choices. And, I'm sure you know, that doesn't happen over night. It takes conversations, grit, and more conversations. But it's worth it. Those conversations aren't just about where they will sit, but how their brain processes making choices. That's what will carry on to the next year.
How do you think we can bridge the gap between deskless classrooms and those with desks? How do we start this conversation and make it productive for each side? I would love to hear your thoughts!