The hearts and headaches of flexible seating.

Last year I read Kayla Delzer blog about flexible seating. As I read this article, I remembered how much I loved my college years. I mostly loved studying in Panera, in the middle of the afternoon, grabbing as many cups of coffee as I could to get me through my work.

This blog post inspired me to make significant changes in my classroom. I started slowly before the end of last school year by allowing my students to choose between their seats, carpets, rocking chair and beach chairs from time to time while they completed their Daily 5 activities or independent work during the phonics lessons. I didn’t really set any specific rules because all my kids had assigned tables and I was just testing the waters.

My 1st graders LOVED having the ability to choose  where they want to work, and very rarely did I have to re-direct my students. So this past school year, I decided to go all out with Flexible Seating from the beginning of the school year. Let me tell you, it has been quite a different experience.

I followed the same steps that I used for Daily 5. We talked about why flexible seating, we talked about the rules, I even got a nice flexible seating contract that my students signed after we had spent 2 weeks of practicing how to find a SMART spot and how to use the materials appropriately.

Well, there were quite a few things that I had not foreseen. Since none of my students had seat sacks, I got them book boxes with their names and their pictures to keep their books, journals and workbooks. Those boxes lasted about 2 months (some less than that). So, I created a Donor Choose project to get plastic see-through baggies that my kids could keep their belongings in. Fast forward a month later, I gave my kids their bags, only to realize that storing them while they were not being used was just as challenging and cumbersome as the book boxes. My classroom is a small classroom and lacks counter space. I am still trying to figure out the best way to store students book baggies.

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Yes, figuring out these little kinks has given me some headaches, but I am so glad I am doing flexible seating with my class this year. Every now and then, I take a step back and admire the beautiful personalities my kids are developing. They are solving problems with their peers and learning to engage with each other in a more fluid way, in ways that only children can when they have flexibility and freedom to choose. I noticed that most of my kids have taken ownership over their learning. Yes, I have a few kids who are not quite ready to make those responsible choices, but they are learning and growing by having fewer choices for now. In my eyes; empowering someone is truly the goal of education; and as an educator my role is to facilitate this  to my students.

I will figure out the baggies situation, hopefully soon, but I am convinced that I will never go back to  traditional classroom seating.

Have you tried Flexible Seating in your classroom?