Dominion Trail Elementary School
4th Grade Classroom
To the Help 4 Our Children Board:
I wanted to write you to let you know the impact that the Flexible Seating grant has had before school has even officially started.
On Thursday night, we had Back to School Night at Dominion Trail Elementary. This night is meant for parents only. Upon entering the classroom, you could tell that parents were already a bit confused as to what they were seeing. Bouncy balls, wobbly stools, low desks/high desks, crates with pillows, rubber bands on chair legs, etc.
It was interesting to see parents pick seats that suited them at that moment. During my two 45 minute sessions I noticed parents who were seated at the wobbly stools rocking back and forth and parents who sat at chairs with rubber bands on their legs with their feet on them bouncing them up and down. I went through my classroom plan for the year, the expectations and the atmosphere I was aiming to build. After the sessions I was able to meet with some parents and get an understanding of their individual needs/concerns.
One parent described the wobble stool as a perfect fit for her child who has a lot of nervous energy. He has trouble concentrating at times when seated in a regular seat and that often leads to him tapping a pencil, shaking his leg or his desk and it takes away from not only his attention, but also the attention of his classmates. This in turn leads to him not having as many friends and feeling even more disconnected and lowers his confidence. She apologetically said that her child gets that from her and that she feels so badly for him because he is a smart boy but often cannot excel given the impact of these other influences. She then said that she realized halfway through my presentation that she was rocking on her stool, as was the person next to her. It didn’t take bother anyone and she was fully attentive the entire time. “It will be perfect for him. Thank you.” She then said that she is going to see if she can get one for her work where she sits at a desk and wants to get one for home when he does homework.
Another student has a degenerative issue where her bones are growing faster than her ligaments and tendons leaving her knees and hips in a lot of pain. Her mom said that the regular chairs hurt her hips and she is often not only squirming around, but uncomfortable. The yoga ball chair however will be perfect. It is soft, squishy, had a padded back and allows here to move the chair around since it is on rollers. She again thanked me for thinking outside the box.
Today (Friday), the students came into the school to meet their teachers. Always one of the best days of the year! Their faces were both confused and excited, clearly seeing something different from the norm. Students tried different seats, some didn’t like the stools, some didn’t like the yoga balls, some liked sitting on the floor at a low desk with just the inflatable disk as a cushion and some sat down and knew that this was their preference and it suited them.
We as teachers have seen the budget for LCPS constantly cut and never fully funded. We have seen class sizes increase, pay stay the same but health insurance rise. In addition, the county highly encourages teachers to take on the newest models and styles of teaching and classroom set up. None of this stops us from spending great sums of money out of own pockets to make the classroom a place that the students can thrive in. If a student “wants” to come to school, then the learning part is easy.
I would never have been able to turn my classroom into an individualized learning environment to the degree that it is now without the H4OC grant. Sure, I would have made some changes based on all the research that I did this past year on Flexible Seating, but I could not have been able to make as many additions to the seating as I did. This would have left me with some children who were able to come to a class that was conducive to learning, but leave others waiting their turn.
Thank you so much. Something as simple as being able to rock on a stool will make a huge difference in my student’s ability to learn which of course prepares them for a more successful future.