Flexible Seating: Getting Started
I've had several people ask me how I began implementing Flexible Seating in my classroom, so here we go! If you haven't yet read Flexible Seating: The Why, you might like to. In that post I explain reasons why I created a flexible seating environment in my classroom. These articles/blog posts have been extremely helpful. Kayla Delzer: Top Dog Teaching and Angie Olson: Lucky Little Learners.
My students have never seen what a flexible seating classroom looked like. Our classroom was the first classroom in our school to transition to flexible seating. Because of this I felt it was important to share photos of what flexible seating classrooms could look like. I first introduced the idea of flexible seating to my students during a class meeting. We practiced 'I Wonder' questions with the pictures, as it was a skill we were working on at the time. Our discussion transitioned from types of seating to reasons why a classroom would be designed like this.
During our discussion words like self-reliance, self-discipline, trustworthy, and respectful popped up. We spoke about what expectations needed to be in place if students were working in a flexible seating environment. Kayla Delzer from Top Dog Teaching created a great anchor chart of flexible seating expectations. I used the language that she used with her students when creating this anchor chart.
You transformed your classroom to a flexible seating environment. Your students are in the classroom. You have gone over expectations. What next? Time to practice!
For the first three weeks of flexible seating, students had a name tag placed somewhere in the room. That would be their spot for that subject area. I also had their name tags placed around the room for morning work time. Once students were weened off the name tags and began making their own choices about where to sit, I stayed consistent with expectations. I continued to hold them accountable. Not being able to get your work done in a flexible seating environment has a natural consequence. The teacher redirects the student, has a conversation about whether that working spot is working for them, and chooses a seat for them in order to help them be more successful.
Be consistent! Refer back to flexible seating expectations as needed. Some students will take longer to adjust and some will adjust more quickly. You might have an assigned working spot for students depending on the time of day or subject area. That's okay. If two students consistently cannot complete work in proximity of each other, the students and teacher need to have a conversation. What is keeping them from working with one another? They might need a break from each other the day or a few days. Meaning- they cannot sit in close proximity to one another because they are not able to get their work done. Does that mean they can never sit with one another again? Of course not! Continue communicating with them. Let them know that you want to see how they are able to work together during a specific subject area. Speak with them before they begin their work and go over expectations. Ask them how they can help themselves be successful. They can do it!
Leave a comment below and let me know about your adventures with flexible seating!