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6 Pros of Flexible Seating in The Classroom

Are you thinking of using flexible seating in your classroom? These are some pros of flexible seating I have found over the years. While yes, there are also some challenges of flexible seatings, but I have found the pros outweigh them!

*Please note, as an Amazon Affiliate, I can receive a commission off of some of the links provided below. I only share links of materials that I have actually used in my classroom and honestly endorse for your classroom, too.*

One of my favorite pros of flexible seating is that there are built in movement breaks throughout the day. We know that students (and adults, too!) need to move to get blood flowing and to give ourselves a quick mental break. In fact, there is research to support a movement break every 30 minutes for school-aged children. With flexible seating, I don’t need to plan these breaks. Rather the occur naturally and even more frequently than 30 minute chunks.

Picture of students sitting in classroom with text that reads, "Students need to move every 30 minutes."
Trying to add in enough movement through the day can be a challenge. With flexible seating there is nothing you need to plan, movement will naturally happen!

When do students move with flexible seating? Naturally throughout the whole day! I like to have whole class instruction in the front of the room. This means students move to the front of the room for quick mini-lessons. Then, they are able to pick a new spot after each subject area or natural break of instruction. This allows additional movement as they pick a new spot. Finally, they have their supplies storied in common areas around the room. When they go to get supplies, they are also able to move around the classroom for a quick movement break.

Pictures of students standing near round tables with text that reads, "built in movement"

Based on the classroom design, I have a few tables that are incorporated into student seating. This also means they are available for multiple teacher-led groups. It is easy for me to make student groups during guided group time. One center or activity can take place at a table in the classroom while I use another table for a guided reading or guided math group.

Last year, I frequently co-taught with our EL teacher. It was easy for us to both have space to work with groups. I think she appreciated having a table instead of sitting in the corner of classroom when working with groups. Many years, I have had a paraprofessional in my classroom, too. When students worked a group of students, she could also use a table for instruction.

Picture of a classroom with arrows pointing out different tables in the classroom with the first block of text readings, "multiple spaces for groups" and an additional text block that reads, "your co-teacher will love it!"
Even if you don’t have a co-teacher or another adult in your classroom at some point, having designed working spots works great for students when they are working on group activities, too!

Last year, I had 4 different clear group spaces for students when working with a teacher or in a small group. This was great because students were often split into groups for different activities. Having defined working areas was helpful when organizing space in the classroom. When not in groups, these same spaces are naturally incorporated into the general seating options.

As students are able to move to different parts of the classroom, they naturally work together. The classroom itself is set-up to promote group work. This helps students collaborate as they work on their learning activities.

When working in groups, students are able to see each other better which naturally improves communication. Instead of sitting in traditional rows, students can sit in groups or next to partner they are working with. This proximity naturally improves both collaboration and communication.

Picture of a group of students around a table working together with text that reads, "encourage collaboration and communication."
Need more proof that flexible seating encourages collaboration? If you search for images of a classroom you will mostly likely find rows of desks. However, if you search for students working together, the classrooms will often show students around a table.

There is also a change in how students view the space in the classroom. Instead of each student having their own desk, the classroom as a whole becomes a shared space. This shift also increases the collaboration in the space.

Students need to be responsible for their materials since the whole room becomes a shared space. This means that they need to be organized to find their supplies when needed. I have found that students tend to stay more organized because they can’t just throw something on their desks. They also only have the supplies they need with them during independent work time, instead of access to all their materials all day long.

Of course, I try to set up the classroom in way to promote organization for students. There are designated spots to keep books, folders, and various school supplies. We also have shared school supplies like glue sticks or scissors that are only put out when needed. Students then need to be responsible in taking care of shared school supplies and returning them when they are finished.

Text reads, "students need to keep their materials organized" with a picture of an over the door shoe hanger filled with student supplies and book bins to demonstrate how students can organize their materials with flexible seating.
Create student supply systems that work for you. I liked using this over-the-door shoe organizer [affiliate link] for students to store their supply pouches, crayons, scissors, and other school supplies. For their books and reading materials, I used these book bins from Really Good Stuff.

Many of the pros of flexible seating benefits the students, but not needing to create seating charts and then pushing desks all over the classroom to create a new arrangement is one of the biggest perks for me.

Pros of flexible seating that make my life easier? It is that I don’t have to push around the desks or have the students noisily rearrange the classroom every time we are ready for a new seating arrangement!

I don’t have to worry about seating charts or rearranging desks throughout the year. Students are  able to work with different peers and sit in different parts of the classroom without me spending a plan period creating a new seating chart. If a student needs to be moved, I can ask them to move in real time. I have also had certain students know not to sit together during specific times. This allowed me to help separate students as needed without trying to come up with the “perfect” seating chart, only to redo it a few weeks later for the next seating chart.

Finally, students also learn about themselves and the best way they learn. With time, students will learn what seating options best suit them. They also need to make decisions about who to sit by and when. For example, during quiet work time, it might be hard to sit by certain friends they are tempted to talk to. However, during a time of discussion, it would be advantageous to sit by someone they feel comfortable talking with.

It is great for students to be able to try different learning situations when they are young to better understand themselves as learners. This can help students past the classroom. For example, what is the best seating option for them to do homework? Is it on the couch, a dimly lit room with soft music, or at the kitchen table? When students get a chance to reflect on their learning space and their learning, they are developing study skills to help them be successful in the future, too.

Learning how and where students learn best can help them outside of the classroom, too!

Have you been using flexible seating? What would you add to pros of flexible seating to the list? I would love to hear what has worked for you! If you are just thinking about getting started, check out how I roll out flexible seating.

Signature that says, "Love, Julie from Llama with Class"
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