Last winter I kept stumbling on posts about Flexible Seating. "I could never do that," I'd tell myself. However, I was in a teaching rut. My students weren't getting what they needed from me: CONTROL. Control over their environment. I was pushing them to take control of their own learning, while unintentionally limiting them in so many other ways.
Along came this post by Kayla Deltzer of Top Dog Teaching. It was the inspiration I needed to take the plunge.
This is what my classroom looked like at the beginning of last year.
What da heck, J?! I can barely breathe looking at the way the space used to be. I was constantly tripping over chairs and running into desks. The students were no better. What could I expect? There were 27 of them crammed into this space with all this darn furniture!
We had a three day week right before Spring Break, so I decided to let the kids design the new room. I used tables that the school already had and no one was using and either took the legs off or raised them all the way up, snagged a couple of benches from a teacher moving out of a classroom, bought some canvas chairs at FIVE Below (5 at $5 each), brought in some old pillows from home, and learned that I am a minimalist at heart. I surprisingly (I have NO IDEA WHY NOT) have no pictures of the classroom at this time!
I spent the summer trying to find cheap, but quality additions to the room. I snagged stools from IKEA (10 at $5 each), white side tables from Target used as stools (2 at $8 each), and 3 child benches made by our corporate sponsor Lippert Components.
Here's what the room looked like after the first 2 days of school:
Bench table and standing table
How we store our workbooks and read-to-self books
It's the hot spot in the room.
The cleanest it will be all darn year.
Table with "stools" from Target
At least one child tips over on these a day. Someone asked if I was going to take them away and reminded them that second graders can fall of anything...including the flat ground if given the chance. Hahahahaha!
The bench in the background was re-appropriated from around the school.
One small group area with IKEA stools
Those are a favorite in the room. I will definitely need to get more since we are always trying to find them for small group time!
Small group area 2
The room often has kids working independently and up to 3 small groups happening at a time.
Small group area and stage
The kids LOVE having a stage! We use it for everything. They scramble to present things in class so they can stand on it. They also volunteer more to write things on the whiteboard since they get to stand up there to do it.
I say it's what it looked like 2 weeks ago because it's already changed! That's the joy of flexible seating! It changes as my students' needs change.
Here is what it looks like in action:
Items travel around the room all day long. The only reminder they get is they own the room and the way the come into it the next day is the way they left it.
If you have been considering Flexible Seating I would encourage you to GO FOR IT. It's been the best thing I've ever done for my students. An added bonus is that when I get over 25 students in the room it never feels like there are that many people in there. SCORE! Plus, I'm a huge fan of being on the floor, sitting on the counter cross-legged, and laying down to get as close to my students' level as I can. Now I don't look like a dork doing it. :)
Go ahead and try something that scares you this week!