I teach first graders and have for years. They’re young. They need to move. It’s actually pretty ridiculous for them to be expected to sit in a desk all day long. I’m way older than them and even I know I couldn’t do that! However, I remember being driven crazy by the fact that students would tip in their chair or sit on their knees and fall out of chairs. What I wasn’t recognizing was that they needed that movement. Since implementing flexible seating, I’ve seen a HUGE difference in needing to get those wiggles out because they are able to do it. Students can bounce on yoga balls if they need it, some may decide they do better standing or maybe they notice they really enjoy a regular desk. The best part of flexible seating is that students get to choose what works best for them. Even with them being young, they really are able to rise to the challenge and choose what works. I can confidently say I witnessed 6 year olds who knew what seat worked best for them and what types of seating did not. Here’s one of my favorite clips of them working!
When I decided to take the plunge into flexible seating, I went all in. I did all the research I could and it turns out there isn’t that much. I went to multiple places to find different cheap seating options. I created multiple Donors Choose projects to help me fund it. When I had all of my seating options, I was extremely nervous and wasn’t sure how it would work, or if it even would work. If I’m being real honest, I had that same thought multiple times during the first few months of school in the middle of tackling what flexible seating would look like for us. You can also learn all about my challenges and how to successfully set up flexible seating in your classroom with this blog post HERE!
However, after months of experience and us learning together, I will NEVER go back. For starters, I think it is extremely important for students to have as much choice and voice in the classroom as possible. I believe flexible seating really helps provide that. It’s also a nice reminder to think that when we are working or reading as adults, we’re not always sitting in a desk. As I’m writing this now, I spend some time sitting on the couch then move to a stool. I move and choose whatever makes me feel comfortable. Shouldn’t we provide the same opportunity for our students? After teaching students about all the different seating options, it was amazing to see how much their focused changed and their desire to complete their work was increased.
Is everyone’s experience going to be smooth sailing? No. Maybe you tried and it didn’t work out for your students. Remember that what works for one group of students may not work for another. During my first year with flexible seating I learned A LOT. There are things I will do differently next year, and I’m sure new adjustments will happen for a new diverse group of kiddos to meet their needs. However, if you had a less than great experience, I would say reflect and retry it! And If you haven’t tried out flexible seating, I strongly encourage you to do so because it will change so much in your classroom and your students. If you’re fearful of the unknown like I was, check out my Beginning of the Year Survival Guide to learn about all the ins and outs of flexible seating as well as how to successfully set up your classroom for a smooth sailing year.
One of the most important things I learned from flexible seating is that in order to help empower your littles to take ownership of their learning, you have to let go. I know as educators (and trust me I’m a total type A personality) it’s hard to let go but amazing things can happen when you do. I also learned there’s no one right way to set up flexible seating. You just have to do what works for you and your students! Be sure to check out my post about my tips on how to successfully set up flexible seating in your classroom.
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