Thursday, May 17, 2018

My Flexible Seating Journey

As a teacher, I've always had a few "comfy chairs" in my classroom for students to use during silent reading time. Of course the students were always fighting over who was able to sit in these chairs, and over the years I used a variety of systems to make sure it was fair for everyone. 

Then, when I started hearing about the idea of flexible seating in the classroom a couple years ago I was interested. I decided to add a few extra seating options to my classroom last school year. I still had a desk for every student, but I also had 2 disc chairs, 2 bouncy chairs (for the students that could use them properly,) a tall pub style table with stools, and some small tables with floor pillows. Every single day I would get the question, "Can we work around the room?" The students LOVED it! They enjoyed being able to find a comfortable place to sit and work. It was great for small group work and independent work alike. And, if a student wasn't working I was able to send them back to their desk as a consequence. It was wonderful! My principal came in for my observation and saw the kids in action. They were fully engaged and showed her how that they were actively working in a whole new way. She loved it and supported my idea to further pursue a flexible seating classroom.
Table from Amazon, Stools from Ikea

Square Tables from Ikea, Pink Pillows from HomeGoods

This school year I started with around 10-12 desks, 2 tables with wobble stools, and 2 chairs from Ikea, a small couch (and the options I had already added the previous year.) When the parents came for school supply drop off, many of them commented about how different the classroom was from a traditional classroom. However, they were all very supportive and excited about the idea for their children. The students were all incredibly excited when they saw their new classroom!

Stools from Office Depot, Table and Couch from Ikea

Lawn Chairs from Ikea

White Shelf and Book Shelves from Ikea

At the beginning of the year, I knew I would need to have some organizational plans in place to make sure the students all had a place to store all of their materials. I bought a book box for every student to store all of their notebooks, folders, paper, etc. Each student also brought in a plastic shoe box to hold all of their art supplies. The textbooks were all stored in the classroom. This system worked for most students. There were a few that still struggled to keep organized, so I gave them each a desk to store their materials in, even if they weren't sitting at the desk. 

Book Boxes are Magazine Boxes from Ikea

We also needed to set some ground rules on how students would choose their seats (How often do we change seats? Can I sit anywhere I want?) I let the students be a part of this decision making process since it was new to all of us. We tried many different options throughout the school year. We finally decided that switching seats once a week was what worked best for us (with a few rules about how often you could choose the same seat, etc.)
I think that having the students help create the rules for how we use our seating options really gave them some ownership of the classroom. They would debate the options and explain their reasons why they believed their ideas were best. This improved our classroom community. 

During the school year, we started to rearrange some of the classroom and added a few new chairs. The students decided we didn't need as many desks, so we are now down to only 8 desks. (This is nice for the students that still prefer a desk or students that aren't demonstrating that they can handle their seating choice on a particular day.) 

Chairs from Kohl's

I love having a flexible seating classroom. I think is such an amazing benefit for my students. Please feel free to share your questions!


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