Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Slice of Life - Why Taking Down Student Chairs is Important

The lights are off.  I'm moving about my classroom taking down chairs we turned over the night before to end our day and to help our custodian sweep underneath.  There's a rhythm in movement and sound as I take each chair down and I began pondering, why.  Why for over 20 years of teaching do I take down each student's chair when I arrive to the classroom?  

The quick answer is my mentors did this in my old district; but there is more as I keep asking why.  Yes, the chairs are heavy.  Yes, taking down the chairs can be a bit loud when it's more than one.  Those are just obvious reasons and if it's been a routine my whole teaching career there has to be more.   I keep probing deeper and realize, it's more inviting.  I want the students to feel the room is ready for learning and being together.  The room looks more open.  The table tops look more inviting.  I hope this brings a feeling of encouragement and a feeling of comfort.  

I then think about the end of the day when my students help put the chairs up for the night.  It's louder.  It's noisier.  It's quicker but I feel it's the responsible thing to do to help our custodian with his cleaning.  I'm wondering now if this is a signal, a routine to say our day is done.  Our tables are not inviting now.  We need to go home and rest.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.


  1. I'm always intrigued by your reflections. I am on the other side. Students stack at night and unstuck in morning. Signaling the end and the beginning never thought about it.

  2. Wow! I had never thought about putting chairs up and taking them down as signals - learning is about to begin, or we are done for now. Very nice! I haven't been taking chairs down in the morning, but maybe I should try it.

  3. This is beautiful. I can just picture the peace, the calm, the quiet as you perhaps think a bit about each student when you touch their chair. What a gift...to them, and to us! Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love the way you thought about these two steps. Beautiful!

  5. Nothing annoys me more than to go into a classroom in the afternoon and see the chairs of absent students still standing on the desk. I love that you take them down so the room feels more inviting. It so does!

    1. I can't imagine chairs staying up. That's an interesting thought. Maybe I need to share too my students don't have assigned seats, I wonder if that makes any difference.

  6. I love the intention you have with the taking down (and the noisy putting up) of the chairs each day. Your kids are fortunate to have such a reflective teacher.

  7. This is such an interesting reflection. They aren't just chairs, really. They mean something. So interesting.