Sitting at a desk for hours a day isn’t good for your health. That’s one reason the the standing desk phenomenon has taken off in the corporate world. Studies show standing throughout the day increases blood circulation, burns calories and helps to maintain insulin effectiveness. When the Belle Terre Elementary School of the Florida-based Flagler School District saw this trend, members of the technology staff thought, why can’t we do that here? If standing desks benefit the health of employees, they can benefit the health of students too.
Joey DiPuma, Flagler’s district Technology Innovation coordinator, was convinced standing desks could have a positive impact on the classroom so he conducted an experiment.
“We went to the cafeteria and we found this really disgusting cart that had a tipped over cup of pudding on it and we cleaned it the best we could,” he says. “Then we picked two staff members and we asked if we could film them for an entire day.” The two staff members were instructed to use the cart as a movable standing desk and to go about their day as usual. When DiPuma reviewed the tape, he noticed the students were moving about the room and following the teacher as she wheeled her desk around the classroom. It wasn’t until about a week later, however, that DiPuma really knew he had stumbled onto something big.
After a week away from work for a conference, he stopped by the classroom piloting the standing cart desk to see how things were going. The teacher told DiPuma that the standing desk was so popular she had to actually create a seating chart because so many students wanted to try it out.
“That’s when I knew that buy-in was not going to be very difficult,” DiPuma says.
He got approval to pilot real standing desks in the classroom and chose the adjustable Ergotron LearnFit. These desks were piloted in a second grade classroom belonging to teacher Melissa Irving.
“In the beginning, I was just thinking this is going to be really cool for the kids who have a hard time sitting in their seats. I didn’t realize just how much my average student would benefit from it, quite honestly,” Irving says.
When the LearnFit desks arrived, the school decided to make an event of it. While the students were at lunch DiPuma and others emptied their classroom of any desks and set up a row of boxes containing the LearnFits outside. Then they led the students outdoors and allowed each child to open a box and see what was inside before moving everything indoors and finishing the set up.
At first, some of the students were concerned. They asked questions like, “what if my feet hurt?” Irving told them that of course they could sit down, but asked the children to try to stand and listen to their bodies. The students ended up standing about 80 percent of the day and were not as tired as they feared. The students were also more focused and more engaged, a side effect that was not necessarily expected, but was welcomed nonetheless.