The idea of flexible seating—allowing students to sit wherever they want around the room in various types of seats from exercise balls to milk crates, to bean bag chairs -- has gained some traction over the last several years. The idea is that students, especially young students, need a chance to move, fidget, and sit in different ways throughout the day, rather than being at one desk for an entire school day.
Kayla Delzer, an elementary school teacher and supporter of flexible seating, has options that are relatively inexpensive ($3 milk crates, for example), making it a great consideration for a new school that has yet to buy expensive desks and other classroom furniture.
There are, of course, many other things to consider when deciding how the classrooms in your new school will be set up. Here are just a few tips curated from principals and teachers who have been in your shoes:
Delzer suggests still having a main space in the classroom for whole group instruction. In her classroom, she has a large rug in the center for just such a purpose.
Delzer also recommends having more seating options than there are students, just in case one or more of your seating options are a little more popular than others
Another good idea is to encourage students to try out each seating option in the classroom for at least an entire school day, just to make sure they are making the best choice for their learning style and comfort.
Erin Klein, an advocate for flexible classroom seating, suggests that it is crucially important to be deliberate in your classroom design. She recommends thinking about lighting, colors, fabrics, and patterns in your room. The idea is to minimize distractions and maximize learning above all else.
This blog does a great job highlighting some of the creative seating options your teachers can use in their classrooms, both for individual student work and for collaborative and group assignments.
Regardless of how you roll out a flexible seating initiative, the key is that this is a great way to put emphasis on student-centered learning. Every aspect of the classroom is student-centered, even where and how students choose to sit!
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