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Flexible Seating - The REAL Scoop!


I took the leap and implemented flexible seating in my classroom this year!

Here are the things that I LOVE and the things I DON'T LOVE about it.....

LOVE

Students have the opportunity to make decisions about where they sit.  This helps them learn about making good choices, being responsible, and taking charge of their own learning.

Many seating options, including yoga ball chairs, wobble stools, flex bands, seat cushions, bean bags, camp chairs, and even working on the floor, are available to my students.  They can work in a place where they are comfortable!

I love that students can MOVE!  Wobble stools, flex bands, yoga ball chairs and other options allow students to move as they sit.  I also have standing tables for my non-sitters.  In addition, I do allow my students to move about the room as needed, and this allows my wigglers the freedom they need to take moving brain breaks!

If a student is having a conflict with the person sitting by them....they can get up and move away!  I can't tell you how this has simplified things!

Students always have the choice to work next to someone or by themselves in a quiet area.  I have a class set of study carrels, which easily turns any spot into a private "office."

No more late nights trying to work out the perfect seating arrangement, separating talkers and making sure to give everyone a turn sitting next to "that one kid that bugs everyone."

I am able to arrange my classroom in a much more visually pleasing arrangement that is also more spread out.  This has given our classroom an amazing feeling of open space and makes things a bit quieter (because the kids are spread out around the room).


The kids LOVE it and surprisingly, the parents do too!


DON'T LOVE

It is very, very difficult to pass out papers when students are not in the classroom (since they don't have a desk of their own).  I have come up with a system that works for me to resolve this issue, but it is still kind of a pain.

We have to use storage bins and cubbies for keeping student supplies and materials.  It works...but is not as convenient as having a desk or chair pocket right on hand.  Students are forever having to go get something out of their bin...which takes up more time than I would like.


Most of our whole group lessons must take place on the floor.  There are some benefits to this (students are in close proximity to me when I'm teaching), but during longer lessons, students can become fidgety and uncomfortable.  Also, being on the floor makes it difficult to use manipulatives for math.  We have made this work, but I can see how it would be difficult for some (more challenging) groups of students.  Students do have assigned floor spaces, which helps a lot!


Substitute teachers DO NOT understand or enjoy flexible seating!

Some students clique together and have to be strongly encouraged to sit with new friends every once in a while.  This is currently a real issue in my class.  We are planning a class meeting to come up with some solutions!

Although we have many, many different and appealing seat choices, students still argue over the BEST ones (i.e., the wobble stools and yoga ball chairs).  I had to implement a VIP seating schedule for our comfy camp chairs and Big Joe bean bags!
THE FINAL WORD

I really, really like flexible seating!  It works great with my class this year and I think it has gone a long way to help us to create a very special sense of community in our classroom!

I would not say that it is for every teacher or every class.  It takes EXTREME organization and planning, not to mention $$.  Also, some classes just need more structure and flexible seating is the opposite of structured!  It could be a disaster for a classroom full of students that struggle with listening, following directions and getting along with one another.

I would love to answer any questions that you have about flexible seating!  Thanks for visiting!

3 comments

  1. Hey Lady,

    I loved your presentation at community circle! It almost made me want to take the leap. Almost. I think lower elementary classrooms just "naturally" gravitate toward a more "flexible" seating style simply because most of our lessons do take place on the carpet, and with a workshop approach you have the ability to move around. Granted, I don't have all the new-fangled seating options {$$/time to write up a grant} I do, however let kiddos sit where they want a large portion of the day. I have wavered with taking a larger leap into flexible seating since 2013 {HA - no joke}.

    http://crisscrossapplesauceinfirstgrade.blogspot.com/2013/06/alternative-seating-in-need-of-your.html

    This was before it was "cool" or "the thing". I still have the same reservations now, that I had almost 4 years ago.

    C'mon, Kath - help a girl out. What should I do?!?!?

    xoxoxo

    Thanks for always making me think - I appreciate that more than you'll ever know!

    Holly :)

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    1. One thing that I learned from moving up to third grade, after teaching first for so long, is that first graders and third graders are not as different as you might think. My management style and classroom setup for first and third were almost identical (third graders have a much better sense of humor though). Like you, I allowed students to work around the room a lot of the time, and they weren't always bound to their seats. However, what I am doing now is VERY different from that. Way more different than I thought it would be. Before the kiddos arrived I was pretty sure that I'd thought of everything and planned for it....but there were many things I did not see coming. My first month of school was interesting because of this, and I had many "holy shit, what did I do?" moments. But two months in, things are running pretty smooth. Any issues that arise from flexible seating are reason to have a class meeting and work it out. Everything can be worked out with a class meeting....I have that kind of class this year. I love the "homey" feel of our classroom and the kids do too. I did shuck out some bucks, which makes me feel compelled to keep going with it and nervous about next year (cause I heard they might not be the best candidates for FS). I guess the bottom line is that it seems to be good for kids...really good, in more ways than one. That's why I was compelled to give it a try...not because it was trending. Trust me....it was wayyy more comfortable for me to keep things status quo! You have awesome classroom management and organizational skills...so you could handle it. I say take the leap! At the very least, it will force you out of your routine and spice things up a bit. After 25 years, I need to do that to keep things interesting. LOL!

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  2. I think you might be surprised, Kathy - I think flexible seating might just be what your next group might need. xoxoxo

    I think I'll keep my 1/2 and 1/2 approach for the time being...one day I might find myself jumping on board. We shall see...I'm in it for the long haul so maybe in another 10 years I might be up for it! HA!

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