March 11, 2009

New Chair?

I realized yesterday that the cushion of my teacher chair was worn out. (My butt was really sore). So I started looking for a new one online at Office Depot. I didn’t get there immediately after school, but was instead interrupted by life. I ran into a colleague who asked where I was off to, and I explained that the cushion of my teacher chair was worn out, and I was on my way to replace it. He explained that because of the configuration in his classroom, and he also teaches using computers, he spends his teaching time standing up.

I finally arrived at Office Depot and went immediately to the chair section. The cheapo chair I selected online was actually made of cheapo vinyl. No thanks. So I had to “test sit” every chair on the floor to find the right fit. I felt like Goldilocks, too hot, too cold, but I couldn’t seem to find “just right.” Part of it was the prices. Have you shopped for chairs lately? They can get very expensive very quickly. And the manufacturer now includes ratings for how many hours you spend in the chair daily, 0-3, 4-6, 7 or more .

As I was test sitting I was considering all of the available information on each chair including: building materials, number of legs, high back vs. low back, degree of tilt, and overall comfort. I was especially careful to be considerate of the number of hours I sit during the day. Teaching computer classes requires a great deal of both demonstration and organization, both of which are best completed while in a comfortably seated position. My current chair is old and quite worn out. Much like Martin Crane’s (Frasier) lounge chair, my old friend is being held together by gaffer's tape.

There were many fine choices and my behind was in barker lounger bliss more than once, when all of a sudden it struck me, what the heck was I doing there? Was I actually trying to support myself spending less time teaching? Sure, I have a legitimate need to sit during class that extends beyond simply resting my feet, but was I actually prepared to purchase a king’s throne that would inadvertently keep me from doing my job? My butt is sore, and I deserve to be comfortable during the day. I need a new chair to support my teaching.

No, I don’t. I don’t need anything in my classroom that is going to distract from my main purpose: teach the students to learn. Instead of being comfortable behind my desk, I need to spend more time moving around the classroom. Instead of students coming to me, I need to go to them. Yes, I will still need to be behind my desk for computer-based demonstrations, but maybe I can raise the legs of my desk so that I too can stand like my colleague. Be careful my teacher friends of anything that distracts you from your purpose, even chairs.


  1. And, may I add, teachers should not have to spend their own money to have an adequate chair in their classroom. Period. You need a place to sit and correct. In no other professional career do people pay for their office equipment!

    Teaching English in ND

  2. Yes we should not have to buy our own chairs but many of us do. The chairs my school provides are plastic chairs with casters on them. You can request something nicer but it might take all school year to get it. So it is quicker and easier to purchase one for yourself. Or when a teacher leaves that had a nice chair ask them if you can have it. That is how I got mine.

  3. I laughed so much at your hilarious description of shopping for a chair - thank you so much for the entertainment. I do hope you get the chair (and your butt) sorted out soon. Somehow, I've always just put up with the chairs we are allocated whether they are great or not; but I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining the possibility of shopping for my own chair one day!

  4. I know the feeling. I do better when I walk the room as I teach and/or while they work.

  5. UPDATE: I finally purchased a new chair, but I cheaped out big time. I found one mis-marked at Target and took that as my cue to buy. My wallet likes it now, but my butt will hate it later. Or well, at least the new chair is leather and not held together with gaff tape!

  6. I have also purchased a new chair. I think its good enough for me.

  7. I used to envy the teachers with nice chairs until I spent time in student chairs while observing. I felt so guilty! Now I can't bring myself to think about buying a nice new comfy chair.