Many teachers have been using some variation of flexible seating years before it became a trend. As long as I can remember, I have always had students who needed something less traditional than sitting at a desk. Of course, there are students who will always prefer that, and that’s the beauty of flexible seating. It’s not about taking away from what works for children but giving them the opportunity for ownership of how they learn best in different situations.
To start the process, I have them take a survey during a Morning Meeting. I ask them how they might do work at home. A bed, a couch, a desk, or on the floor are some of the choices I give them. I then think about those choices and do a trial run by what they’ve answered. What I have introduced this year that is new (to me) is a very purposeful and slow introduction to their options. We first looked at expectations of each type of seating and posted them in the room. I then brought out a different one every couple of days with a visual reminder of the rules or expectations for that particular seating. By being more methodical about how, when, and why they use flexible seating, the students now are familiar with the best ways they can learn.
Does it always work perfectly? Absolutely not! But they know if they aren’t using the seating correctly, then they have to turn it in for the rest of the day. Flexible seating can lean itself towards a more relaxed learning environment where I am able to move around the room as students work in pairs or independently in spaces they feel they learn and work best. I also use different lighting instead of overhead lights on all day. I’m fortunate to have big windows in my classroom, so we often use natural light with a few lamps. If the “big lights” are on, many times the children will ask to turn the lights off. Another good example of being in charge of how they learn best!