Standing Desks in the Classroom

Standing Desks in the Classroom

Melissa Gage is a 6th grade teacher at Park Lawn Junior Middle School in Etobicoke, Ontario. Melissa has been teaching for 15 years, so she knows a thing or two about children, and what they need in the classroom.  

Fitneff provided Melissa with two Stand2Learn YZE Double Student Standing Desks for her classroom. These desks give students of the option to stand, instead of sitting, while still continuing to work. Standing desks have shown to provide many benefits for both the teacher and the students alike.

Melissa introduced the idea of standing desks to the class with an invitation to try them, and to provide their feedback. The students were keen, and together, they developed a plan for how they could be used in the classroom. I had the pleasure of visiting Melissa and her 6th grade class, and speaking with them about their experiences using the standing desks. 

Q: How did you incorporate the desks into the classroom routine?  

Melissa: The two desks are located on opposite sides of the classroom. I’ve asked the students to stay in their regular desks while I am teaching a lesson, but they are welcome to move to the desks once they are at work, as long as they aren’t crowded. From time to time, when I notice that a student is having trouble sitting still while I’m teaching, I invite him or her to spend some time at the standing desk. 

Q: How did you decide who would use the standing desks, and when?  

Melissa: Right now, anyone can use them if they ask.  They were very popular during a recent math test so I’ve started to rotate people so that everyone can have a chance.  I've asked them to wait until after my lesson is done before moving to the standing desks. It seems less disruptive at the moment.

Q: For you as the teacher, did the desks help with, or create more, classroom distractions?

Melissa: So far, I feel they are reducing distractions during work periods. The students seem to be able to focus on their work when they are at the standing desks. I think that standing allows them to do their work in a new and different way and it really seems to help. We are all really loving them.

Q: Did the kids notice improved focus or attention span while working at the desks? 

Melissa: Yes, the kids have reported better attention, less anxiety during tests, and better collaboration when working on collaborative tasks such as science projects. 

Q: Studies have shown that standing desks in the classroom can have many benefits for teachers and students alike. What sort of benefits did you experience in your classroom? 

Melissa: As I've referenced, the students experienced mental health benefits in the form of less anxiety during tests. As well, improved collaboration among the students and fewer disruptions, which helps us all!

Q: Were there any downsides to having the desks in the classroom? 

Melissa: Finding a space for them was an issue at first. However, I involved the class in this and we worked together during math class one day to reorganize the classroom. 

Q: Any final thoughts? All thoughts or observations are welcome! 

Melissa: During parent interviews, many parents commented on what a great idea the desks are. They seem to have liked the idea that we were trying something new in the classroom, and getting kids up out of their chairs.  


Now, let’s hear from the students themselves.

I asked the students to tell me, in their own words, how they felt about the new standing desks in their classroom. Their comments were open and direct, in that earnest way that children share their opinions. Their feedback was consistent with the findings of a recent study, and their words truly say it all.  

“When I’m sitting at my desk and I start to feel fidgety, I start to move my hands and feet, and I’m tempted to lean back on my chair (I know that’s dangerous). I don’t have that problem at the new desk.” Kateryna

“When I sit at my desk for too long, I start to feel sleepy. I don’t know why, but when I get to stand up for a while, I feel awake again. It is easier to stay awake when I’m working standing up.” Misha

 “I don’t fidget as much when I’m standing.” Cristian

 “Usually I feel locked up in my chair. Now I can stand up at the desks, and I can move around while still getting my work done.” Daniel 

 “When I’m sitting for too long, especially when I’ve been working hard at something, it feels good to take a break from my desk and to stand up and stretch.” Clara 

“When I’m sitting too long, sometimes I start daydreaming. If I stand up and move to the standing desk, I can focus on the work I need to do.” Terik

 “I’m not the type of guy who can sit for a long time.” Arsen

 “I was really stressed out about our math test. Standing and moving my legs helped me to feel better. I just wrote the test and didn't worry about it anymore.” Caden 

 “I like the foot rest. It makes it more comfortable to stand with one foot on that foot rest.” Julia

“When we were doing our science projects together, we could spread out our supplies and it was easier to work together.” Mohamed 

“The standing desks make it easier to pair up and work together with other people.” Joel


Not everyone loved the standing desks, and that's okay.  

“When I have a project to do, it takes a long time and I couldn’t stand that whole time. I like to sit when I need to concentrate.” Mike

“Sometimes I need to go back to my own desk to take a break from the group at the standing desk.” Kateryna 


In Conclusion

It appears that the students loved the option to move back and forth between their traditional desks and the standing desks. Neither sitting nor standing for long periods of time is healthy or advisable, so this option allowed students to choose where they felt most comfortable to do their work. 

This change allowed them to move their legs and feet, to break the monotony of sitting in one spot, and helped them to focus on their work. 

Most students indicated that it was difficult for them to sit still for long periods of time. While seated, they expressed a need to wiggle and fidget, and many felt trapped in their chairs. Moving to a standing desk appears to have given these students relief, an outlet, and the opportunity to stand up and move around, without interrupting their work. Even moving their legs and feet while working helped otherwise fidgety students to stay focused. 

Thank you to Melissa Gage and all of her grade 6 students for testing the desks, and for sharing their open and honest feedback. It was such an honour to work with you! 

To learn more about how to get standing desks in your classroom, or the classrooms of your children, please contact us!


January 16, 2017 — Heather Lielmanis

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