This year, English students may have noticed a box of fidget toys circulating their classrooms which are part of an effort by Ms. Chu to help create a more equitable learning environment. At the beginning of the year, many teachers required students to write an introductory letter about their learning styles and preferences. Numerous students in Ms. Chu’s classes stated that they preferred learning while being able to do something with their hands. Taking this into account, as well as the fact that English is a rather sedentary, discussion-based class, new fidget toys were obtained.
Currently stationed in four English classrooms, and on their way to many more, these fidget toys have had a rather positive impact on most students’ learning experiences. Although one poll respondent notes that they are “scared about all of the germs!!!” since “students are constantly touching them and lots of people are sick right now,” many people are noticing a positive impact on classroom experiences: “They mostly don’t bother me… I think that overall they are helping people focus… and make conversations better.”
Why is this? As Ms. Chu explains, “Students know how to advocate for what works best for them to learn, and there are students who regularly use the fidgets, others who use them occasionally, and even others who never use them.” According to Mr. Bonar from the LRC, fidget toys were originally marketed towards people diagnosed with ADHD but have widespread applications. “The fact is students and many adults spend the vast majority of their day sitting at a desk even though studies have repeatedly shown that the human body and brain need activity in order to be fully functional.” That being said, it might not be necessary for all teachers to employ these fidgets in the classroom. According to Ms. Chu, “Teachers who use more physical movement in their classrooms than I do might not feel like they need fidgets which is totally ok!”
These classroom additions are examples of how Lakeside is separating itself from a standard school environment by employing all sorts of tactics to enhance the student experience. These small little toys may not seem like a big deal, but for many students and teachers, they are a transformative addition to the English classrooms. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these in the future.