HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Chapman Schools third grade class has no desks, and it's on purpose.
"Someone that's used to desks and rows and there being no talking and it being completely silent would think it's crazy," says teacher Tracey Bailey. She started the new way of learning several years ago when she hit a rock wall in her career.
"I wasn't happy. My kids certainly weren't happy. We were all frustrated," says Bailey. "I sprang all of this information at them and praying it stuck, when really the first nine minutes of my hour-long great, fabulous, engaging lesson stuck. That's why they weren't learning anything," she admits.
On a trip to the bookstore, she came across a book all about reinventing standard forms of educating. She discovered deskless classrooms. It was an overnight success.
Students say the more comfortable they are in any learning environment, the easier it is for them to focus and truly retain the information.
Harvard research backs this up. John Ratey, M.D., Harvard Medical School professor and author of A User's Guide to the Brain, calls physical activity "Miracle-Gro for the brain." One study finds 13% more students succeed when physical activity is added to regular lessons.
Mrs. Bailey says for her 3rd grade class, behavior also improved as test scores rose.
"I think from the outside not knowing, you would come in and think that they're just lying on the floor, rolling around, not doing anything, but, if you sat down next to them and talked to them, you know they were actually in the process of doing so much bigger," Bailey adds.
Every student has a space. Whether it's on the carpet, on top of a shelf or in a bin, they have a home in Mrs. Bailey's classroom. She calls it organized chaos. They call it and her the reason they've gotten through 3rd grade.
One student thanked Mrs. Bailey for her devoted effort in their success and for just being nice, which at any age really matters.
Mrs. Bailey realized that students want to have a say and she gave them one.
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