Sunday, November 27, 2016

Getting Flexible with Flexible Seating


One of the best pieces of teacher advice that I got when I went on maternity leave was that having a child changes who you are as a teacher.  I completely 100% agree with this statement.  Being a teacher mom means that you get a new lens to see all of the different things that you do in the classroom.  Decisions are no longer made with just your teacher hat, but also with your mom hat, a hat that says, "What would I want for my child?"

This summer, I made an interesting observation about my little boy, he is totally going to be a stander in the classroom.  He doesn't sit to color, watch Paw Patrol, or even eat meals.  He is going to want to stand, wiggle, move, and shake while he works in the classroom, and I pray that he has a teacher who understands this!  This also made me realize that I didn't have very many options for kids who want to sit somewhere other than a desk, so I spent my summer coming up with a few options to meet the needs of the mover, shakers, and floor sitters in my own classroom...introducing flexible seating!!!

Standing Table
One of the newly added spaces in my classroom this year was the standing table. The standing table is a chairless pod of 4 desks that have been raised.  They are student standing height, and students are allowed to stand to work.  They are placed at the back of the classroom so that standing students are not in the line of vision of other students.  For my kids who love to sway while working, they love being at the standing table.

Sitting Table
Just like we have a standing table, we also have a sitting table in our classroom.  Our sitting table is made up of two trapezoid tables with the legs removed.  I simply unscrewed and took out the adjustable legs.  I have added pillows so that students can sit or kneel at the sitting table.  The only unexpected outcome of the sitting table is that students want to sit on top of the table.  Since it is so low to the ground, I do let them work there like that occasionally.  The hexagon shape allows up to 6 kids to work comfortably at the sitting table.  Sometimes in the morning, I will find up to 10 kids around the table working on making books or writing stories together!

Chair Parking
This year, I also created a "chair parking zone".  Chair parking is really just where we stack our chairs every night, but it is a place where students can drop their chair off if they do not want it at the moment.  What I typically notice is that first thing in the morning, there are a lot of chairs in chair parking, as students will stand at their desk to do their work.  By mid morning and into the afternoon, more students will get chairs to sit in.  Students can get or put away a chair during any transition time, as long as their space is cleaned up by the end of the timer.

Room to Move
As always, I always have a room to move option in the classroom.  I provide students with access to clipboards so that if they are working independently, they can work at their desk, under their desk, laying on the flooring, or anywhere else around our room.  The expectations that are set at the beginning of the year is that they are responsible for getting their work done, cleaning up after them self, and making sure they are a hula hoop away from another classmate. When we first introduce this, there are definitely places that are a hot commodity, but once kids have had a chance to try every space, they settle into what fits them best as learners.  They get their work done, and they can find a way to be comfortable while learning.
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