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. Let me start by saying...
Before making the big change in your room, share photos of flexible seating classrooms with your students. I shared photos during a class meeting by stating, "I saw some pictures of classrooms and I thought they were interesting. We are going to practice stating 'I Wonder' questions with them." Their faces were priceless. One student: "I wonder if these are REALLY classrooms?" "I wonder why there aren't desks?" Then we worked on making predictions ...guessing the answers for the questions we asked.
When talking about these classrooms I worked in words like "Self-Reliance" "Self-Disciplined" "Trustworthy" "Respectful". These were traits that these students must have if they have a classroom environment like this. I ended the classroom meeting by saying..."Just thought it was interesting..." They took the bait.
Get out your Anchor Chart paper! Time to make a list of Flexible Seating Rules! I used the same rules that Angie Olson from Lucky Little Learners used...as well as Kayla Delzer from Top Dog Teaching.
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 the day. By having a spot for an entire day, students were able to see if that type of seating worked for them during particular subjects or at different points during the day.
I really REALLY was strict when enforcing our Flexible Seating rules. Bounced a bit too much on the stability ball? You were given a different seat for the remainder of the day. Off task for a bit? Different seat. (The different type of seating generally wasn't an exciting spot).
Once students were weened off the name tags and began making their own choices about where to sit, I remained consistent. I love that the natural consequence of not being able to get work done in a flexible seating environment is that you are not given a choice of where to sit. It becomes very motivating for students who want to prove that they can handle it.
Be consistent! Refer back to Flexible Seating Rules as needed. Some students will take longer to adjust and some will adjust more quickly. Two months in I still had an assigned morning spot for a student in my classroom. I just kept their name tag out and moved it to a different spot each morning. If two students cannot get work done near each other all the time, you might have to make a "Cannot Sit With So-And-So" rule. It happens and it's okay. All of the benefits of flexible seating outweigh everything else!
This is me on the day that I introduced flexible seating to my classroom. It was THE most terrifying day for me. I was worrying for no reason! Deep breaths! It is going to take time- just like teaching any routine, but it is going to be OKAY! :-)
Leave a comment below and let me know about your adventures with Flexible Seating!
-Ashley from Talkin Pinata Teaching