California Educator

May / June 2017

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Are they good or bad? The history of standing desks c a n b e t r a c e d b a c k t o t h e 1400s — it is said Leonardo d a Vin c i u s ed on e w h en h e came up with his many ideas such as f lying machines and armored cars. Ergonomically correct and commercially available stand- ing desks of today, however, became popular over the past decade, as office workers began spending more and more of their day sitting in front of a computer screen. ey're now making their way into homes and classrooms, where teachers are finding they help fidgety kids stay more focused. Still, the jury is out on whether standing desks — or sit-stand desks that can be adjusted for height — are any better for their users. Recent studies indicate that there is little evidence that sit- stand desks or even fancier treadmill desks help burn calories or prevent the harm of sitting. In fact, there is little evidence that standing is better than sitting, according to Jos Verbeek, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, who studied the impact of standing and sit-stand desks. "e idea you should be standing four hours a day? ere's no real evidence for that," he said in a 2016 interview with National Public Radio. "I would say that there's evidence that standing can be bad for your health." Bob Hill, education manager for Ergotron, one of the major manufacturers of sit-stand desks, advocates that people listen to their bodies. "Ergonomists say that the best posture is the next posture. We look at the ills of too much sedentary behavior and encourage people to move on to the next posture," he says, noting that a sit- stand desk is adjustable and allows more movement. Hill says that standing or sit-stand desks may be the wave of the future, since they are mobile and adjustable to any size student. "ey fit in nicely with personalized learning, adaptive learning, and allow for greater classroom efficiency," he says. Greater connectivity, agility Many teachers develop back problems from too much standing, or from working in "child-size environments" where they must bend and stoop, or lift and carry. To be sure, some teachers can't picture themselves using or wanting a standing desk. Educators like Babicz say the benefits outweigh the draw- backs. Teachers in crowded , smaller rooms have found that standing desks take up less space, a n d s o m e m o d e l s d e si g n e d w i t h cubbies and pull-out drawers allow them to cut clutter and become even m o re o rg a n i z e d . S t a n d i n g d e s k s can also eliminate podiums and AV carts; newer versions can accom- modate laptops, tablets and DVD players, allowing teachers to easily integrate PowerPoint presentations and SmartBoards. Some note that the desks allow better collaboration and more engagement with students, such as one-on-one discussions or viewing student presentations. Robert Brewer, an eighth-grade science teacher at Montera Middle School and Oakland Education Association member, uses a standing desk to supplement his traditional desk. Brewer has a large 50-foot-long classroom, so his portable desk allows him to easily navigate through the space to reach students. While his surface space is smaller than Babicz's desk, it is large enough to accommodate class handouts and his Chromebook. He even rolls it out into the hallway between classes to work with his colleagues. "It helps me get more work done and makes me a bit more effi- cient," he says. "Now, I have furniture that works with me, instead of the other way around." — HASIA BABICZ, Dixie Teachers Association Flexispot's sit-stand desktop workstations can move up or down with ease. Ergotron's mobile desks let you move around the classroom with ease. 47 May / June 2017

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