Standing to Learn
If you have been around Brainerd Baptist School long, you will know that we like to frequently ask questions that focus on learning. We are consumed with examining how our learning processes align with a research-based focus. We spend much time in our in-service and faculty meetings talking about things like this. Our teachers are challenged to look at how the teach in relation to what is best for students. This is not a new phenomena at our school. I vividly remember when my son (who is now in college!) was in the first grade at Brainerd Baptist School, his teacher (Mrs. Stromberg) realized he would do better on his work if he stood up. Seems simple enough - so she let him stand up to work. This is just a small example of ways our teachers have taught for a LONG time!
A popular trend in many schools over the last two years is to offer students multiple options of seating as they work. Although some teachers have been doing this for years, there is relatively new research that speaks to the benefits of these choices for students. There are several grades at BBS that have incorporated alternative seating choices for students. About two years ago Mrs. Payne approached me about the possibility of adding these desk to their classrooms. I have asked Mrs. Payne to talk through the logic behind us adding these desk to our classrooms in the post below. I am thankful for teachers who believe so strongly in what they do that they continue to go above and beyond to make our school better! See Mrs. Payne’s thoughts on the desks below.
Why A Standing Desk?
I like to say that teaching elementary students is such a neat experience because, their minds are like little sponges, absorbing so much! However, we are faced with the challenge of providing a high quality academic curriculum with the understanding that you have a limited amount of time for sustained attention! As educators, we are always trying to seek the most effective way to teach our students while also providing the best possible learning environment for them. For years, we have implemented movement and various seating options to help our students with sustained attention, but there is still, room for improvement.
So much research has been done on performance and productivity in the work place, hence the introduction of standing desks! This research has shown that standing while working improves working memory, processing, alertness, focus and enhances physical health. Movement is important because research proves that shifting weight, fidgeting, and subtle movements support mental processing. When blood gets flowing through the body and to the brain, memory retention increases. Because of these benefits, standing desks have become very common in the corporate world, and now, schools are also incorporating them into classrooms.
Because the research suggest that it is what is best for students, we believe that this is what we need at BBS for our fabulous first graders!!! And so for our first grade, this is where our journey began.
In the winter of 2017, we began to research how we could add these desks to our classrooms. While there are many desks available for the secondary schools, not as many were available for a self contained elementary classroom. After much searching, we found that the Hyde Park Day School in Chicago, IL had worked with Marvel Desks to develop a desk that would meet the needs of young students.
After deciding that this desk would be the desk that we wanted our students to use at Brainerd Baptist School, the difficult task of funding these desks became a reality. Teachers LOVE to teach, but do not necessarily like to talk about raising money! These desks were well above the normal budget that BBS spends on desks. It was obvious that this amount would not be available in our school budget. With the help of our development director, Ellen Baggenstoss, in fall of 2017 we applied for a grant hoping to obtain funds to purchase the desks! We were disappointed when we were not awarded the grant. Although disappointed, we believed so strongly that these desks would benefit our students, that in the summer of 2018 we decided to try a different avenue to raise the money. Who would be willing to help? We realized that the people we needed to reach out to were the ones who loved BBS as much as us, but also did not want to ask our current families, who already give so much to our school. So we reached out to parents of former BBS students. In about a one-month time period we raised almost $6,000. I think we surprised Dr. Corcoran with how quickly we were raising the money more than ourselves! Since the goal to obtain desks for our classroom was so successful, the decision was made to purchase desks for the entire first grade. Our dream has become a reality. On October 1, 2018 – with the help of our parents – these desks were placed in our first grade classrooms! We are so excited to see how this will impact our students for years to come!