Overheard at my son’s school:
Parent: “How’s my child doing sitting still in your class?”
Teacher: “I don’t know. We don’t sit still for very long.”
That was music to my ears. I don’t sit still well. I took this brief excerpt to heart when it comes to developing my teaching.
Howard Gardner hypothesized there are many different intelligences reflected in people from math/logical, verbal/linguistic and bodily kinaesthetic perspectives. In the article above it is suggested that “Providing students with multiple ways to access content improves learning.” (Hattie, 2011) Sitting still at a desk is just one of many ways to access learning.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
UDL looks at ways to improve student learning by offering flexible options to support student success. Options include alternative assessment, flexible workspaces and regular feedback. One common UDL phrase is “Necessary for some, useful for all…”
Active options in and beyond the classroom stimulate success in students who struggle sitting still and can benefit all students in the class.
I use “vertical, non-permanent work spaces” (white boards) all over the class to get students working together sharing, problem solving and brainstorming. We go outside to explore science and math in the real world. I incorporate drumming in transition times.
The Art of Sitting Still
While I am an active learner I benefit from developing the ability to sit quietly with my mind. And I see the value for all kids. So, while I work to keep the class moving I also build in quiet time where we practice sitting still to accomplish tasks.
Sometimes that is disguised as trying to beat our own world record for independent silent reading – as in how long can the class be engaged in reading without developing wiggly bums or chatty mouths. Or a quiet, meditation exercise like the 60 Second Fix after recess or DPA (daily physical activity.)
School is traditionally designed for quiet, diligent worker bees. That works well if you or your child is a quiet, diligent worker bee. More and more I am seeing more UDL and active options in classrooms – bike desks, Forest School inspired outdoor learning, flexible work stations…
That’s moving in the right direction!