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9 thoughts on “Chairs”

  1. I have had no desks for several years and have three different kinds of chair.
    1. One is the typical yellow “school chair”. DO NOT GET THESE! They are uncomfortable, unyielding, and conducive to leaning backwards in an attempt to get comfortable. They have a frame with a plastic/nylon/pvc seat and back (two separate pieces). Here is a link so you will know what to AVOID:
    2. Another is a molded plastic chair that is better but still not all that good. Here is a link to this chair:
    3. The third is also molded plastic, but it is the most comfortable of the three, providing both support and a bit of flexibility – some students rock back and forth a little bit with them, but I have never had a student tip one of these backwards. Here is a link to a picture:
    The frame for my chairs is a little bit different from this one, but the seat is the same.
    I have these three styles of chair because I took what I could get in order to go without desks.
    If someone were willing to purchase chairs for my classroom, I would look into something like this:
    It looks like it is slightly padded and has a moveable writing surface. However, I am not convinced that this would be the best choice because it brings desks back into the equation, allowing students to erect a barrier and hiding place for their cell phones, etc. So far using small (about 12×24) white boards as a writing surface has worked just fine. Many students prefer to use their own binder or a larger book anyway.
    or this:
    I see no reason to deliberately make school seating uncomfortable. On the one hand, some teachers will argue that too much comfort will lead to inattention. That may be true, but a seat that you can sit in comfortably for an hour (as opposed to a bed) is not too comfortable. On the other hand, a seat that is uncomfortable (like most school chairs) will definitely lead to inattention because students are more focused on their discomfort than what is happening in the class. If our instruction is engaging, the relative comfort of a chair will benefit us rather than work against us.
    If price is not an issue, I would probably opt for something like #5, but I would want to take a look at the actual chair before ordering.
    If price is an issue, I would find #3 fully acceptable, might settle for #2, but would fight against #1 as totally unacceptable.
    Just my two cents (or maybe a bit more).

    1. Robert – thank you for your detailed response! Question: Do you know where can I purchase option #3? Also, I couldn’t get the url for option #5 to load. Is there another way to access #5?
      Thank you!

      1. I couldn’t open that link, either. Ah well, it was a fabric, padded chair.
        I would recommend getting either plastic/nylon(most durable) or fabric (most comfortable) chars. Personally, I would avoid vinyl and leather. Once either one of those is damaged, it is difficult to repair and quickly deteriorates.
        As far as sources go, I don’t have any. Most schools have suppliers or vendors from which they do most of their buying, so your school may already have a supplier from whom they can get whatever you want. Otherwise, google “school chairs” and “church chairs” in -images-. Click on the image of a chair you like, then click on view page. That will most likely take you to a page with sales information. Look around a bit before making a decision.
        I also recommend a metal frame rather than a wooden frame and a taller back rest – something that supports the upper back rather than hitting the lower or mid back. Of course, if cost is truly no object, you could check into ergonomic chairs. 🙂

  2. My original reply is awaiting moderation, so I will just answer the part about the writing surface.
    I use small white boards (about 12″x24″) that I keep in a box near the door. Whenever we do any writing, students go and get the white boards and then return them afterwards. If it is going to a short writing assignment (e.g. the five-point end-of-class quiz or writing down the target structures), most students will simply use their binder or a large textbook rather than going and getting a white board.
    Occasionally I hand out white board markers and have students write short answers on the boards and hold them up. They are great for Yes/No, one-word, multiple-choice and other short answers that you don’t want to collect but want to reinforce. I have also had my story drawer draw the story on the white boards, then I take a photograph of the pictures to put into a PowerPoint or Slides presentation. I can also hold up the white boards one at a time to talk about them or put them in a row on the marker tray of the large white board on the wall. I can mix up the order and ask students if that is correct – sort of a very low-tech textivate except with pictures.
    Once students get used to the highly unusual arrangement, they function with it very well.

    1. Now that I think about it, I think my white boards are smaller than what I said – closer to 10×18. My district is big on technology and in the process of acquiring notebook computers for classroom use. I plan to require students to use the white boards as lap desks when using a computer.
      I also have a couple of folding tables that come out occasionally. The big use is when we have our pre-Christmas “cultural experience” with German Christmas decorations and foods.
      BTW, “cultural experience” is not just a euphemism for party to me. There is always a cultural component, so it is also a learning experience for students. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. I also figure the last day before Christmas is not a day to do hard work, so students “learn by tasting” what German Christmas foods are like and see what decorations Germans use. Most students just think it’s a party, though, and don’t consider the learning element work.

  3. I second Robert’s response. I went deskless 4 years ago and love it. I’m heading to a new school in August so am also actively seeking chairs. No budget means dumpster diving for me! It’s an adventure. Before I even got the job I wondered how I could approach this diplomatically, and it so happens that overcrowding in the middle school means they are moving 8th graders into the building so I inquired “do you need these desks for the new 8th graders?” Haha! They do and will be removed from my classroom!
    While I am looking forward to dumpster diving and finding stuff at the surplus stores, I did do a quick search for stackable or foldable chairs, thinking this could be a good way to go. If anyone has a source or suggestions, I’d love to hear.
    For whiteboards, I went to Home Depot and had them cut the large white sheets of ??? whatever you call it that they use for showers. Someone on here posted about that a few years ago. You can get whatever size you want. I think mine are 9×12. Work great for all the uses Robert describes and also as lap desks for those kids who want to use them that way.
    I also got 2 of those folding plastic tables for when we wanted a table (parties, etc.) I keep them folded up leaning against the wall to save space.

  4. I have a very small classroom – a colleague liked to compare it to the trash compactor room scene from the oldest Star Wars movie. Deskless is better for that reason alone, but I had the invitation to have a bigger room, shared with another teacher, and with desks — and I chose to stay in the small room with no desks without much hesitiation.
    I just use the usual school chairs since my school has those available. There is an issue with students liking to tip those chairs back against the wall, but to be honest that doesn’t really bother me. I look for their attention and if I have that, I hardly notice how many chair legs are on the floor. It has been noticed by visitors to my class though. I have students put bags on or under a table near the door.
    If I could pick any chair at all, though, ones that stack higher or fold up would be a priority.

    1. On writing surfaces: I have one small, round table in the center of the chair area (for props mostly) that a few students sometimes use for short writing, and about 9×12 inch whiteboards for the rest. We also use the whiteboards for drawing and answers questions from time to time.

  5. When I was in Denver for IFLT, at Ben’s school, I noticed that all the chairs were rockers, with no desk attached. Ben, perhaps you could give us some details about the chairs and the decision to adopt them.

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