To Sit or Not to Sit?

How much time do you spend on your feet while teaching? Do you feel it’s better for a teacher to remain standing for the duration of a lesson? Let’s consider reasons for standing and sitting:

We sit to:

  • promote discussion among students and take the focus off of us;
  • allow solo work or independent work to be completed without distraction;
  • read/ listen to a long passage with the class;
  • be next to a student for a private consultation.

We stand to:

  • present at the board;
  • command and hold attention during an explanation or anecdote;
  • monitor group or pair work;
  • guide a whole class exercise or activity.

The truth is that I’ve observed good teaching done from a chair and from a lecture stand. Part of the matter lies in one’s teaching style. Even so, I’d argue for an appropriate balance, with the scale tipping slightly in favor of being on your feet…not planted to the ground, but with some movement. After all, teaching takes both the teacher and the student on a journey, one that has more in common with hiking than driving.  And while one could compare a teacher’s job to what is done behind the steering wheel, I think having options like cruise control and GPS would take all the fun and art out of teaching.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lucy says:

    Hello. I like the way you have categorized the two. I often find that sitting works well with smaller groups of students (4 to 6). It makes for an informal and much more intimate group setting. Conversation is also more inviting this way. I agree that this also takes the focus away from the teacher and provides a more flexible and relaxing interchange among students. Thanks.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      You’re right! Thanks for making the additional points. The number of students influences our position and movement. Why would you walk around the room if you’re teaching only one student?

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