Over the summer, our school transformed in many ways to be even more excellent for students. We have had countless meaningful conversations on how to make our environments best suited for students and I am so proud that in our K-5 model school, we implementing school-wide flexible seating!
Our district was beyond generous with supporting innovative desk options and hokki stools/chairs to all of our classrooms in the building. Teachers have also brought in many of their materials, seating arrangements, and decorations.
In the past, I have played around with flexible seating as an educator and have been astonished by the results. This year, as a Mentor Teacher and Technology Integrationist, I am a support system to my colleagues and students. Therefore, It has been an extraordinary experience to work with many teachers as they set-up their classrooms to find out what works for their kiddos, while seeing how that differs from class to class based on the ages and learners.
This post will feature five incredible colleagues that I am fortunate enough to work beside: Angie Clarke (4th grade), Cara Cahill (3rd grade), Jordan Shawhan (2nd grade), Lauren Montgomery (4th grade), and Molly Rittenhouse (4th grade). They have done an spectacular job designing their spaces while adding their personal flair!
But, before I show you the grand tour of their spaces, I asked the ladies some questions to see their thoughts (almost a month into school) to see how the flexible seating is going thus far. I culminated their ideas in this chart below:
Each teacher was asked the questions individually. Even so, every teacher above said “student choice” was their favorite part of flexible seating; Teachers also stated that “choice” was the feature of flexible seating that their students adored the most. How neat is that?
You are probably also wanting to know more about what students think of their spaces!
All of the teachers are raving about inclined student interest, and I can second that from being in the classrooms myself and from experiencing flexible seating with my former students as well. As far as the “most favorite” or “least preferred” seating arrangements goes, it depends on the individual learner. The only commonalities between grade levels thus far are overall the hokki stool is a favorite while sitting at the desk in a regular chair is the least favorite. But, there are always exceptions to the general rule. There are a few students who do prefer sitting at the desk above all of the other seating options. Even so, additional student favorites are the bungee chair and standing table.
Are you ready now? Here is a sneak peak into their warm and inviting classrooms- Take a look:
Ms. Angie Clarke’s 4th Grade Class – @ClarkesClass
Check-out her beginning of the year tour of her designed class here!
I love the energy of Angie’s class! One of my favorite spaces in her room is the reading area that you see below; It feels like a living room that you want to lounge in for a lifetime. There are plenty of comfortable chair options, background drapes, dim lighting, and faint classical music playing in the background!
Mrs. Cara Cahill’s 3rd Grade Class – @CahillCara
Cara has an enormous variety of seating options in her classroom that students love (and I do, too!). Cara’s students are having a blast with the bungee chairs that Cara purchased for her kiddos. The lap desks in her classroom are also a fantastic alternative to clipboards. I also love the bright colors that Cara chose for her classroom; It gives the space such a lively feeling!
Ms. Lauren Montgomery’s 4th Grade Class – @TeamMontgomery4
Lauren is only a second-year teacher, but she already is becoming a pro with flexible seating. I am so impressed with her willingness to try new things! Lauren’s area is very organized, with many caddies to place learning tools. Many of these caddies can be purchased at the dollar store! Lauren is excited to continue experimenting with flexible seating as the year goes on.
Ms. Molly Ritts 4th Grade Class – @MsRittsClass
Molly has been doing marvelous things with flexible seating! I love her collaborative arrangements with the student tables. Molly also has pillows with removable sleeves/covers that the students often use for workspaces; The removability of these pillow cases makes it easy for Molly to toss them into the wash for regular cleaning. Students always look so comfortable in this space and they enjoy having choices in their learning.
Ms. Jordan Shawhan’s 2nd Grade Class – @MsShawhan3TE
Although Jordan’s classroom is smaller in size, she has done a marvelous job of giving her environment such a personalized touch; It is very impressive to see what she has done! Jordan has organizational caddies (as you see below) that are fantastic resources! I love the caddy organization with handles for easy mobility of supplies.
Flexible seating is not just about chair accommodations. The overall environment, lighting, temperature, and other factors contribute greatly as well. Moreover, it is really about empowering students to make choices in their learning journey. When students are encouraged to make meaningful choices to impact their learning, it can build into change that will transcend beyond the classroom.
Another huge BRAVO to the daring ladies featured in this post! Join them on their continued learning journey this year by following them on Twitter. At the end of the school year, I will write a follow-up post so you can view their reflections on flexible seating. Stay tuned!
Until then- Best of luck in your flexible seating journey,