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Avoid behaviors: move desks to fit tasks

Date: June 12th, 2014
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [1:43] for an easy tip that will reduce behaviors and increase student attention.

I want to talk a little bit today about the environment, and how it impacts behavior. Now, this is a typical setup of a classroom. They like to have kids working in groups together, and so all these desks are facing each other. It’s a beautiful classroom, nice, big, bright, everything that you’d want to have in a classroom.

However, what if you’re teaching from the front of the room? While you are teaching from the front of the room, you have kids that are sitting in these groups. Two things come to mind when it comes to attention, and having to be seated, and listening to the teacher. One is, “Yeah. I am facing another child. I am likely to want to talk to them, instead of paying attention to the front of the room.” The other is, “I am an antsy kid, and I need some movement breaks.”

Well, if you ask me, everybody needs movement breaks. You ever been at that long conference? You had to sit for a long time and after a while your brain just checks out? It’s the same thing.

How do I change that? I change the environment and provide the movement break. Basically, I say to them, “Hey. You know what? It’s time to pay attention to the front of the room. You know what that means? It means it’s time to move your seat.” They get up, take their seats and move them to face the front. Is it a little loud and maybe a little chaotic? At times it can be, but the more you do it the better they get at it.

Now, I have their attention here. When it’s time for us to go do some seatwork, and face each other again, guess what? Another movement break, another activity that gets their brain activated. I change the environment to work for what I need it to work for.