Some students in the Gowanda school district are starting the new school year off in new classrooms.
As part of a newly designed Ergonomic Education Experience, students in third, fifth, sixth and ninth grade will learn in new state of the art classrooms designed with non-traditional “flexible seating” options, like wobble stools, exercise balls, standing desks, couches, peddle desks, and even rocking chairs.
The incorporation of creative alternative seating arrangements starts as an experiment thanks to grant the district received last year that supportive the purchase of a few standing desks. Given the immediate support from students and teachers alike, Paula Troutman, Director of Curriculm and Janine Jalal, Director of Special Education decided to take things a step further.
“I just started doing a whole lot of national research. I found that flexible seating was something many work environments and other schools successfully piloted. Engagement increased, comfort level increased, it also promotes better health by encouraging movement,” Troutman said. “I immediately started sharing what I found and teachers jumped on board,” she continued.
The goal for teachers who chose to participate in this year's pilot program, which is supported by several different grants and funds secured by the district, is to determine how their students can benefit from choosing how and where they learn best.
“Our students get to choose. Instead of us coming in and saying sit at this desk, they are walking in and making choices and decisions and our job then is to support them and guide them, just in a different way. This new classroom structure really encourages student-led learning,” one of the sixth grade teachers shared..
Ultimately, Troutman said the goal is to expand the program and include more grades in the experience.
Already, teachers are eager for their classrooms to be included next year.