St. Joseph’s Students Take a Stand in New Classroom Set-up

Getting students back in the classroom doesn’t mean they’ll be sitting behind a desk.

“Please take your seats” is not a phrase you will hear very often anymore in the computer classroom of St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Instead, children are taking a stand … thanks to the classroom’s newest feature: standing desks. Gina, our school’s computer teacher, made the switch to standing desks to modernize her classroom and get kids up and on their feet more throughout the school day.

And after just two weeks, it hasn’t taken long to notice the difference they’ve made.

“Overall, it has been accepted well … but I would say some more than others,” said Gina, with a laugh. “Getting used to change is always hard in the beginning but from my past experience, I feel they will adjust and maybe like the opportunity to stand more!”

Children in the U.S. lead increasingly sedentary lives, both in school and at home, and it’s contributed in part to the childhood obesity rates that have continually gone up since the 1970’s, according to the CDC. Children have always exhibited a need to move around in class — whether by fidgeting, frequent restroom requests or other disruptive behaviors. Experts believe standing can channel that need for movement, helping children focus in class and avoiding the tendency to zone out after long periods of sitting.

Gina said the standing desks allow her students to “fidget” in a way that is less obvious, and thus less disruptive.

Students are seen standing with one foot on a block of wood. This allows them to shift their weight comfortably from side to side as they work.

“They can shift their weight back and forth and move around a little bit in other ways that aren’t disruptive and distracting so I think that helps the concentration levels of everyone in the room,” she said. “I also added blocks of wood beneath their desks for them to put their foot on, and they seem to appreciate that.”

Before the desks arrived in her classroom, Gina had previous experience using standing desks in the workplace and saw positive results.

“In my past job, we went from everyone sitting to standing and it was so much better for my employees physically and mentally. Their productivity improved measurably.  Even the ones that fought it the most eventually came to realize how much better they felt at the end of the day,” she said.

Every so often, a student asked Gina permission to stand as they did their work. She obliged with a makeshift wooden box, but clearly wanted a more suitable solution. The desks are adjusted hydraulically, meaning each student can adjust it to their height at the beginning of each class. They are easy enough for the littlest ones to do by themselves, and the desks have hooks for hanging backpacks to keep the floor less cluttered. Besides the potential health benefits of standing, Gina is enjoying the new desks because they’ve allowed her to design her classroom in a way that fosters teamwork and student collaboration. Her setup before, that included two long rows of six-foot-long tables, did not accomplish this as easily.

“I always tell them in the ‘real world’ if we have problems, we ask others for help or ideas. I want to promote that in my classroom,” said Gina. “Being able to move the configuration the desks into pairs, singles or quads at the drop of a hat was a big plus for me. This makes it possible for us to collaborate in any form at any time.”

Her students like the desks, too.

“The one thing I like about the standing desk is that I can type better,” said Traevin.

“The thing I like about standing desks is that you have more movement,” said Jevjuan.

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Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Students Take a Stand in New Classroom Set-up”

  1. I did not want $60 a month. Mine was for a one time. Please fix this. Let me know. If not remove me. I don’t have $60 a month too give. AGAIN LET ME KNOW. PATRICK

  2. I’ve been a supporter of St. Joseph’s school for years. I just want to say, I’m a little disappointed that I’ve seen nothing from you, either on the website or in your mailings, about all the news stories the last few months about the troubled past of the historic Indian schools like St. Joseph’s. I do believe you’re doing good work now, but in the context of this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day it seems like it sure would have been good to comment about how your school does or does not share those bad things from the past.

    1. Eric, we respond to direct questions as we get them. The forced assimilation of Native Americans is a grievous truth in U.S. history. At St. Joseph’s we are committed to address our roots in boarding school history. We know we have much work to do to move forward, and we humbly acknowledge where we have fallen short. Fr. Henry Hogebach began St. Joseph’s in 1927. His religious order was founded by Fr. Leo John Dehon whose desire was always to seek justice and uplift the lives of all people who share common dignity as children of God. We can be sure that was Fr. Hogebach’s intention in opening the school for Native American children. Of course, to assume St. Joseph’s Indian School always got it right is naïve. Although established toward the end of the boarding school era, the discipline and regimented programming of the time characterized the early days of the school. Today, we work to correct the wrongs of history.

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