If you have been around at all in the past few years, you may have noticed the explosion with flexible and alternative seating in classrooms. You can find amazing blog posts from Greg Smedley, Kayla Delzer, Erin Klein, Angie Olson and many more!
I am here today to share my spin on things when it comes to flexible seating. I feel that, while there have been many amazing posts about flexible seating, there have not been any about unique situations when it comes to parameters, demographics and other factors.
And that, my friends, is what I intend to share with you!
Now, please keep in mind that my demographic is different than most. I also run my flexible seating within my administrators and districts parameters. This post is not to go against or disagree with those that I have listed above that inspired me to take the leap into this world of flexible seating. This post is to simply share how flexible seating can be run and how I make it work for my students and myself.
Let's get rollin'!
*WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED TO LAUNCH FLEXIBLE SEATING IN YOUR CLASSROOM. READ CAREFULLY TO FIND YOUR MATERIALS*
I have been working on phasing into flexible seating in my classroom for 2 years now. I have received a lot of questions about why and how I make this happen. and today I will answer it all!
Let's start with
Why do I phase into my flexible seating? Am I aware that there is guided exploration? Isn't it better to just start with it and have it all year?
All of these are very valid questions, however it all comes down to what rules I have to follow and the parameters with which I must stay in. My school is in a high-poverty area that continually has refugee families moving in along with families in crisis. With this being my "norm" I have to keep in mind that children and families going through all these transitions are experiencing many new things. Light switches, automatic toilets , running water, computers, etc. can all be very overwhelming to someone going through this process. I have been asked to "phase" into my flexible seating mid year for two reasons.
1) By mid year we do not see as many refugee families due to many different reasons, but one being our winter weather.
2) My class list no longer see's such a high turn over. Having a high turn over means that you will constantly be re-teaching expectations and how to use materials appropriately.
Now let's move on to the next question...
This is where it get's fun! There are many different ways that you could phase into your flexible seating and it honestly comes down to what works best for you and your students. Keeping that in mind, I will explain how this works in my room.
At the beginning of the school year I inform my students and their parents that our classroom will phase into flexible seating mid-year. This allows parents to ask questions face-to-face at back to school night and gives them time research or look into what flexible seating offers their students. By telling my students and parents at the beginning of the year allows me to pull out different seating options "for fun" or "as rewards" before December. It is always fun to give students a little taste of what is to come.
Around Thanksgiving, I pull my class together to discuss progress that has been made and we begin the discussion of how our classroom will begin taking the steps to prepare for flexible seating. We talk about the options they will have, why we are going to do flexible seating and how it can be fun but, it is meant for them to grow as learners. At this point in the conversation we take a moment to talk about the future, how someday they will have jobs doing whatever they dream of and how those jobs will have places that look different than our classroom. In this discussion we talk about how I, as their teacher, believe it is important for them to know how they work best. This is where the conversation gets exciting because we begin to show office buildings, such as google, and their minds are blown! Adults using wiggle stools?! There is a slide?! You mean they can lay down and work?!
(Images found on google. Image of Google Offices, Hudl and Facebook)
Yes, yes my sweet kiddos, this is the goal. For you to walk out into the world and know that you can be productive while wiggling, fidgeting and laying.
At this time in the year I discuss how in the next few weeks they will find a VIP table in our classroom. This table will have different seating options around it and I will rotate people through so everyone will have a chance to try out the new seats. The reason I start with a VIP table is because it allows me to slowly introduce seating options and control how many students are using that seating option at one time. In this case, I typically have 4 to 6 students around the long table and I will bring out yoga balls first (since that is what I have the most of and it seems to be the one that is the hardest to figure out due to bouncing).
Each seating option is brought out and explored as we get closer to Christmas /Winter break.
Once December hits, our flexible seating countdown begins. Now, I know this may go against the grain, but...in my classroom my students "earn" each flexible seating option. The reason we go through this "earning" process is because it helps keep them motivated through the weeks leading up to the Holiday season. (I could try to come up with some creative answer, but that is honestly why we use the word "earn")
So far, this process has worked like a charm! The kiddos are excited to be working towards a flexible classroom, I am able to manage behaviors and my sanity and we all are excited and happy in the end! Now, we do not have ALL of our seating options launched before we get to break, but this works out perfectly because we are then able to continue with a consistent process as we return to our school routine.
The truth is, I kind of love phasing into my flexible seating. It gives my class a goal, something to look forward to in the middle of the school year. It gives me time to build strong relationships with my students and work with them to find where they may be most successful.
Check out the flexible seating options in my classroom!
(Below you will find: Backpatter red chairs from Lakeshore, Yoga ball chairs from Amazon, Pedals from Donor's Choose, Hokki stools from Donor's choose and black "jellyfish"/safco zenergy ball chairs in black from Donor's Choose)
Now, it's your turn. Are you wanting to take the leap into flexible seating? Let me help! The image below is a direct link to a video walking you through the steps of preparing and executing flexible seating in your classroom. In this video I cover how I launch each seating option with visuals, how my students choose their seats without running or fighting and where you can find flexible seating options right now! What are you waiting for?!?!
(click image below)
If you have any questions please do not be afraid to comment below!
I hope you found this helpful!
Stay tuned for more of my brain vomit which is sure to be spilling out soon!
Thanks for stoppin' by!