Sitting Too Much?

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“My students have such a hard time sitting still! They call out all the time! They’re constantly out of their seats!” After hearing this refrain over and over again from teachers, I decided to do a little research. However, instead of trying to verify whether teachers were right about how wiggly their students are, I wanted to know more about how much students were being required to sit.

Sitting for long stretches of time is challenging for many children (and adults, too!)  For many of us, frequent opportunities to move are a key to maintaining attention and focus. I wondered if teachers were seeing the antsy behavior because their students needed more chances to move.

So while on a school visit recently, I scanned classrooms as I walked through the halls. In sixteen of the nineteen classrooms I passed, most or all of the students were sitting down. (Two of the three classes where kids were up and moving were art and PE.) I don’t think this was unusual — in many schools, students are expected to sit for most of the day — through math lessons, reading workshop, science lessons, and so on.

Another complaint I hear often from teachers is “Staff meetings are so hard! I hate having to sit still for an hour!” Teachers move around a lot during a typical school day. When I scanned those nineteen classrooms, I saw sixteen teachers who were up and about: traveling across the room to answer questions, kneeling at a student’s desk to help, striding to the front of the room to write a problem on the board. I started wondering if part of teachers’ frustrations with students’ wiggles comes out of the contrast between their movement-filled days and their students’ much more sedentary experience.

What do you think of this theory? Does it ring true for you? If so, I’d like to challenge you to start adding more movement for students into your school days. In my next few posts, I’ll share some specific suggestions for doing this while still keeping the class under control.

Mike Anderson is an education consultant who leads great learning throughout the United States and beyond. He is an award winning teacher and the author of many books. You can follow him on Twitter at @balancedteacher.

  • Mike Anderson
    Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It MatterThe Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.

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    Mike Anderson
    Leading Great Learning
    Durham, NH
    Phone: +1 413.658.7907

    Leading Great Learning

    Mike Anderson is an energetic, experienced, and highly sought-after educational consultant who helps facilitate great learning in schools all over the United States and beyond. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, consultant, presenter, and developer and has authored many books and articles about great teaching and learning.