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!
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Built in Movement Breaks
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.
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.
Multiple Spots for Groups
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.
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.
Collaboration and Communication are Naturally Highlighted
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.
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.
Student Responsibility and Organization
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.