No matter what population you’re teaching, did you know that there are several things that you can do in your physical classroom to help students focus and help create higher rates of participation? Talk to school administrators about what options you have, but also consider how you might employ some of the following suggestions that can encourage students to focus.
Arrange Desks So Students Can See Each Other
Whether you’re teaching Biology or English, students are more likely to participate if they feel that the instructor and other students can see them. Arranging desks in a semi-circle or another arrangement where everyone is highly visible prevents “back row students” from hiding and mentally checking out because they have more contact with everyone else in the room. It also encourages conversation, and thus, higher rates of participation.
Utilize Standing Desks
Whether the length of your class is long or short, consider the potential benefits of using a standing desk. Research tells us that a sedentary lifestyle aggravates symptoms of ADD and ADHD.
For those who do not have ADD/ADHD, or haven’t been officially diagnosed, it might logically follow that if the ability to move helps those who are severely distracted working, doing the same action could positively impact others as well. In fact, there are several reasons why educators are beginning to utilize standing desks for students, in addition to the benefit of helping them focus.
**To learn more about the ideal standing desk for your classroom, scroll down to the bottom of this article.**
Decide How Electronics Are to Be Used… Or Not
In your syllabus or at the beginning of the year, make your technology policy explicitly clear. Cell phones are a major distraction and may educators tell students, up front, that they will subtract a certain amount of points from their final grade for every instance that they see them using their phones. Some prefer to collect phones at the beginning of class. Whatever you decide, think about the maturity level of your students and how they can feel equally trusted by you and also accountable to you within your policy.
Many feel it is important to allow phones for emergencies, so if you feel that that is the case, tell your students that they need to notify you about the possibility of any important phone class before class starts.
When it comes to computers, laptops, and tablets, talk to your school administrators about school policies and think about whether or not you feel that the use of a computer is helpful or hurtful to your class. Don’t automatically assume that a computer means that students will be surfing the web. Many students feel they are better able to take notes and keep engaged by using a computer over a notebook. Whatever you choose, make sure your policy is clear and consistent.
Look into Non-Traditional Chairs
Often students feel uncomfortable in traditional chairs and that discomfort can be extremely distracting. Instead, perhaps allow your students the option to use exercise balls or even chairs that have space for a yoga ball to sit within a frame. Researchers suggest that using one of these, instead of traditional chairs, helps students move in a way that is not distracting to classmates and encourages participation and focus.
If these types of chairs are not an option, consider comfortable and supportive chairs.
Be Aware of Lighting
Although teachers may not have much control over this in every classroom, be aware that sometimes lighting that is too low or too bright can be extremely distracting to students as they either have to strain their eyes or feel over stimulated. Without making it too dark in the room, consider what you might to limit fluorescent overhead lights.
--Interested in finding the right desk for your classroom to help students focus? Check out the UPDESK Home. In addition to its affordable price tag, it is easy to use, has automatic drive features, and includes two integrated wheels that allow you (and your students) to easily move them around the classroom as needed. If applicable, discounts may be available for larger orders. Learn more about all of UPDESK’s standing desks for student here.