Type in flexible seating on Pinterest, and you will find everything from affordable seating ideas, student contracts, to colorful rooms filled with pillows, wobble stools, and stability balls. So what’s the big deal? You may remember I helped a teacher create her flexible seating oasis, last year. The teacher and students LOVED it and evidently so did you because it is one of my top visited blog posts. However, I think it’s important to step back a bit and explore, if flexible seating is the best option for your students, before jumping on the proverbial bandwagon. So let’s start from the beginning.
Back in the Day
If you are as old as me, you might have lived in a quaint little neighborhood and attended your local elementary school. Every morning, weather permitting, you walked the half mile to school with friends. Once at school, you spent most of the morning at the desk your teacher assigned to you and sat there most of the day during lectures and seatwork. Sound familiar? What has changed? Not much really in most classrooms except TWO very significant things.
RECESS! Recess included kickball, tag, double dutch or just climbing on the monkey bars in the morning, after lunch and during the mid-afternoon. Not only did you participate in THREE recesses a day but do you remember being able to take a short little nap after lunch?
HOME LIFE: At the end of the school day, you walked back home with friends, ate a snack and then spent the rest of the day riding your bike or playing in the creek.
It was a simpler time, and even though your teacher made you sit at a desk most of the day, you had other opportunities to move. Life has changed a lot in the last forty years; EXCEPT in the classroom!
Students still sit at desks most of the day and test prep and “rigor” occurs in the place of recess. Most kids do not walk to school anymore, AND they play video games rather than ride their bikes. So something has got to change in the life of a child. Since educators can’t change what’s happening at home, it’s time to take a closer look at the classroom.
My job as a consultant and blogger is to help administrators and teachers develop a vision to meet the demands of our 21st-century learners based on appropriate research. Knowing this is a huge undertaking, I like to break things down into bite-sized chunks to simplify the process.
Let’s Get Started with Flexible Seating
Over the next month, I am going to explore the concept of learning environments. I’m going to share with you real-life examples so you can “see” things in action.
To start, I want you to solidify the vision you have for your students and your classroom. Your vision is the driving force to help you make any decision in your classroom.
Once you know your vision, you examine everything you do with your students based on the lens of your vision.
Based on my vision, I found three pieces of research/approaches to help me solidify my reasons for wanting flexible seating. They are:
- Flexible Learning Environments promote a Responsive Classroom approach to learning.
- Brain research shows that physical activity enhance the learning process. In the article, Moving with the Brain in Mind (2000), Jensen suggest teachers and students participate in movement throughout the day. He states, “Teachers who have learners of ANY age sit for too long are missing the boat.”
- The National Training Laboratories (2000) found an 80% retention rate on content when students were allowed to teach others. This is compared to only 5% retained when delivered through lecture.
Take the information and categorize it. For example, I took the above pieces of information and broke it into the topics below. Then determine how the information helps you implement your vision.
Your takeaways help develop your why and should be backed by research to help implement your vision.
Now it’s your turn
Click here to download a copy of the planning sheet to print out or add to your Google Drive. Sift through some of the articles and write down three things that resonate with you. Once completed, write out your vision and your why, as I did above, and then share by clicking on the following link.
Next week, join me as I take a closer look at classrooms from my favorite teachers. They share their tips and tricks of what works for them.
What questions do you have about flexible seating?
Let me know in the comments so I may address them on the blog or my social media channels.