Have you decided to implement flexible seating but are slightly freaking out about how exactly to do it? I totally understand because I’ve been there. My intention is to help you look at flexible seating in a manageable way and believe it can be successful when planned out right. By the end of this, hopefully you’ll be relieved of some of the fear and anxiety that happens when you make any major changes in your classroom.
After implementing flexible seating, I absolutely believe it is an essential component of any successful classroom. When you’re ready to get it all set up, check out my post here where I share all the nitty gritty details on setting up- from acquiring seat choices to expectations, and how to manage flexible seating throughout the entire school year. But right now, let’s get into the top three must knows before diving into this awesome game changing classroom component!
#1- Model, Model, Model…. And Then Model Some More
Modeling is a key component in successfully applying flexible seating options in your classroom. If this is something brand new to your students, chances are they will not know what to expect. Being EXPLICIT as possible when it comes to your expectations for how to treat seats, routines on how to choose and store seats, and procedures for every single thing you can think of when it comes to flexible seating. When I say explicitly as possible, I mean model and practice what everything should LOOK like and SOUND like. You can check out THESE editable flexible seating posters to get you started! We went over our posters and students practiced what it looked like to be in each seat, whereas I would practice what it didn’t look like (students never model what it doesn’t look like). This is how I teach all of my classroom expectations: what it looks like, almost looks like, and never looks like. You can find more information about this in the Back to School Teacher Guide.
When you’re knee deep in the modeling process, it’s important to remember this is going to challenge your ability to let go of control. You’ll have to let go of how things look and sound because trust me, it’s going to be different. But if you do let go, wonderful things can happen! Practice makes progress and never underestimate the power of spending AMPLE time to get your procedures down. If you want things to be smooth sailing and stay that way throughout the year, spend more time than you think to really ensure your students are meeting your expectations. Once they get it, it’ll become like muscle memory for them!
#2- Organization is CRUCIAL
When deciding to implement flexible seating options in the classroom, organization of all things has to be thought about thoroughly. Will you have individual supplies, classroom supplies, or a combination of both? Where will students store their materials, books, folders and things of that nature? Where will you store different seat choices? How will students access seats and materials? These are the kinds of questions I asked myself when preparing and organizing my classroom. I decided on a combination of individual and classroom supplies. Students used pencil boxes to store their personal materials, sterilite bins housed extra materials, such as scissors, glue, and crayons, and we used student numbered bins to house the remaining materials such as their books, folders, and notebooks.
This set up worked for my classroom and my students. You may want things to look different for your students. It’s whatever you feel comfortable with. It’s ok if things don’t work out how you plan….. that’s usually how it goes anyway right? It’s also ok if you have to change things around multiple times. The way I started the year with flexible seating, is not the way I ended the year. Things change but you and your students adapt and it’s all a learning experience. An experience that will push you farther than expected, but so many great things happen because of it. After everything was super organized, labeling just about our entire room was next. This is crucial because with this new found seating freedom, you kind of have to allow access and freedom to a lot more in the classroom. With THESE editable labels, you can design and organize your space so that your students own the room. These are apart of the Flexible Seating Bundle too! Read more about how to set up your classroom for success here!
#3- Utilize Good Resources
I know when I was getting started with flexible seating, I felt so overwhelmed and lost. I had no idea where to start or what to look for when it came to labels, brochures to educate families, or anything! So after years of getting the kinks out of my own flex seating journey, I vowed to create a resource teachers would LOVE to help them because it would have every piece thought about and included! I made a jam packed Flexible Seating Bundle so YOU don’t have to scramble for resources or put a modge podge of random things together like I had to. Instead, you’ll have EVERYTHING you need to begin flexible seating from DAY ONE with students! Included in the bundle you’ll find detailed lesson plans, parent information, editable anchor charts, and SO much more. Check it out HERE! The best part is, it’s EDITABLE so you can be sure it fits each and every one of your needs! Ready to dig into all things flexible seating? Check out the ultimate guide HERE!
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Flexible seating is a new challenge but so worth it. Students love being given choices and you will be amazed at what they can do when they’re empowered to do it. I believe if this works with my firsties, this can definitely work with your kiddos! If you’re looking for more beginning of the year tips and set up, you’ll love the Back to School Teacher Guide that goes through every detail of setting up a classroom to help you successfully set up and have a smoothly run classroom. Even if you’re a veteran teacher this guide can still help you think about things you may not have before! If you’d like a more interactive approach, check out my Building A Student Centered Classroom Course to work through the guide and transform the way your classroom runs!
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