Well gang, I made the transition over fall break to a flexible seating arrangement for my Honors Sophomore and Freshmen English classes. I am unsure if it will be successful or I will even like it but with all the research, hype, and beautiful pictures on Pinterest and Instagram, I wanted to give it a go and shake up my teaching practices at this point in my educational career.
What is flexible seating?
A classroom with flexible seating looks different from a traditional classroom that only uses desks and chairs. Items such as pillows, stools, standing tables, lowered tables, etc. are used to allow students to have options for where their teams sits that class period in order for their team to have the best working environment for learning. The goal of flexible seating is to give students choice and create a more collaborative culture for the 21st century learner.
How will flexible seating be introduced?
At the beginning of second quarter, I reviewed the expectations for the students and the different seating options. I spent time teaching them what the learning should look like when they are using the seats correctly and how to best take care of them. I rotated the teams through each working spot (for about a week) to give them an opportunity to experience the different options in our classroom before they begin to choose their own spots for their team.
What makes it flexible?
There are many different options for seating, but you will notice that all options still allow for a work space for students. Almost all of the seating choices are still placed at tables and individual desks are still available for any student that shows me they need a bit more structure (or less choice).
I have researched the benefits: it empowers students, increases student engagement, and prepares them for real-world working environments. If all goes well this year, I may look at balance ball chair options or even bean bag chairs! CRAZY!
It took some thought into how I would keep my classroom teams (click link above for information on my team challenges) into the equation of this new seating.
I decided that the students will have choice but fairness.
Each day a team member will pick up their team’s number by the door (from the stand pictured below) and will “claim their working spot” for that class period. However, once that team chooses that spot, they must choose a different spot the rest of the week.
Therefore they can only use the “couch spot” once a week, the “floor spot” once a week, etc. The students seemed to think this was a fair way to do it and that their team could be in a totally different working spot each day of the week which they liked but also they are still working all quarter as a team on group work and team challenges and there is comfort and familiarity there.
So far the students love it, but it has only been a few days and we haven’t gotten into the “meat” of the curriculum for quarter two yet. I love it in theory, but I am so nervous about how it will go in actual practice and if it will truly help my kids be more collaborative and successful or if it will be just a pretty classroom arrangement.
I will keep the blog updated on how this shift is going in my classroom.