Saturday, January 31, 2015

Simplicity: Keep It Moving

Sometimes it's the little things we do that make a big difference.  Often we are not even aware of the impact of our behaviors, words, or actions on our classroom communities.  There are so many little things we do that create change and improve our learning environments.

Early in my career I asked to have my desk taken out of my classroom.  I really never looked back.  It's true that getting rid of my desk was an organizational strategy for me.  I promise I could find everything on my desk, but there was always way too much resting upon its top.   Additionally, the decision was made because I felt the space was too valuable to be taken by my desk.  Every time I have moved into new spaces, I've gotten rid of my desk.  It has always breathed new life into the spaces for students.

Not only did getting rid of my desk give more space to our community, but it changed everything about the way I worked.  I couldn't pile work to be done on the space anymore so I had to get things completed with greater immediacy.  If you know me, you know I'm not really one to sit still anyway, but it also kept me from sitting behind it.  Instead of sitting I found myself on the go in my classroom: moving from space to space, from front to back, from table to table, from student to student.

As a classroom teacher, I found moving to students to be time efficient.  Not only did moving around cut the time needed for conferring by removing student transitions, but it really helped me to take the pulse of the classroom.  I might have a plan to confer with 3-5 students during one workshop block, but by moving around the room I can check in with others quickly.  As I sit at a table talking with a student about her writing, I can note the work of neighboring students in a glance.  As I take a seat on the carpet next to a reader, I can observe the reading choices of students sitting nearby.  Sometimes  it's possible to bring other students into our conversation about learning.

Moving around matters.  It not only improves my FitBit score at the end of the day, but it helps me to be more effective.  In my new position as a primary reading support teacher, I am going into many classrooms.  In the classrooms I work in each day I find myself locating students and moving to their spaces most often.  To me there is a strong message in going to the student instead of making the student come to me.  Students can continue to work instead of having to get up and move to a new space.  It saves transition time and is less disruptive to students engaged in learning.  It also tells learners they are in charge of their learning, and I'm here to learn beside them.  It tells them I'm interested in the work they are doing and think it is valuable.  It's one of those simple changes that can make a big difference.

Why moving matters:
  • puts children in the lead
  • sends the message, "I'll meet you where you are." 
  • reduces transitions for students
  • improves classroom management
  • is time efficient
  • allows purposeful monitoring of the work of many students
  • makes "touch conferences" easy and natural


  1. You and I agree completely on this point. I never have a desk. I cannot understand how anyone gets anything done in a classroom if they sit too long. I love the movement that happens in our room. It symbolizes flexibility and continuous learning which is what I want my students to have.

  2. Funny that you just posted this - I just had to fill out a survey about the furniture quality in my room. Condition of teacher desk? No, don't have one. I thought about how I too move around the space as students are engaged. It just makes sense. I love your line about the message to students about their work being interesting and valuable. The "meet you where you are" is so important. Thanks for this post Cathy!

  3. Love this Cathy -- I move a lot, but never thought about how it could impact or make a difference! Nice to put movement in a positive light - most of my life it was deemed a negative!!