Pedal Desks May Be The Answer For Antsy Middle Schoolers

by Meredith Bland
Image via Wake County Public Schools

Middle school teacher finds pedal desks improve student’s ability to concentrate in class

Kids never stop moving. Ever. Ever ever ever. Forget “no running on the pool deck,” most of us can barely get our kids to eat sitting down. So it’s no surprise that when we send them to school and ask them to sit quietly and attentively for hours on end, they can find it exceedingly difficult. Teacher Bethany Lambeth of Martin Middle School in Raleigh, North Carolina saw her students struggling and wanted to find an answer.

“When I switched to teaching middle school [from elementary school], I noticed that my students had a harder time focusing,” Lambeth tells Babble. It was not that my students were trying to fidget, they just had a lot of pent up energy. I was researching ways to allow my students to move around in the room, but not take away from instructional time.” Inspired by treadmill desks, balance ball chairs, and standing desks, Lambeth discovered Desk Cycles, a pedaling system designed to fit underneath desks. She wanted to try them out in her classroom but was, of course, concerned about the cost.

Lambeth found a grant opportunity through 4C For Children that offers money to projects that address their four C’s: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Lambeth’s school was awarded a $2000 grant after showing that pedal desks would accomplish all four. “My justification was that through movement my students will be able to gain more focus, which would, in turn, help them to think more critically and be more creative with their work,” Lambeth tells CBS. As students are able to focus more, they are able to gain a deeper understanding of the content, which in turn allows them to collaborate with others more effectively and communicate their thoughts more clearly.”

She purchased the desks in April and saw an improvement in her students almost immediately: “…within the first week they were telling me that they felt like they could focus more.” Desk cycles also had a positive effect on their schoolwork: “I have noticed an increase in the quality and the quantity of student work…Last year I noticed an average of a 50 percent decrease in the amount of missing work for my struggling students.”

Children are intensely energetic beings and having a way to release some of that energy physically allows their minds to focus on other things. Like, you know, math. And as PE classes get cut and the time allocated to recess decreases, innovations like these become more and more important for our kids. For her part, Lambeth would recommend desk cycles to any school: “Some days [the students] come in with a lot of energy, stressed, or frustrated and they know that spending a period pedaling will help them out.”