Welcome to the first post of a two part blog post series on Flexible Seating!
We want to share our Flexible Seating classroom with you! So, you’ve seen Flexible Seating and you want to try it, but it seems a bit overwhelming…. am I right? We felt the exact same way! Hopefully, after looking through some of our tips, you will gain the confidence and motivation to start Flexible Seating in your room! We are telling you…
ONCE YOU EXPERIENCE FLEXIBLE SEATING FOR YOURSELF, YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK!
In this post, you will see our types of seating, how we enter our classroom, where students store their materials and how students are introduced to the idea of Flexible Seating!
Types of Seating
Here are the types of seating that we have available in our room. We did not start out with everything you see in the pictures here. We started small and continued to add more and more options. Some of our first seating options were: yoga balls at desks, a lowered kidney table with pillows, lap desks, and spare rolling chairs. These seating options are all extremely low priced items.
Once our administrator saw our Flexible Seating classroom, we were given 4 wobble stools. These were a bit pricier, but your school might have funding for them or there is always Donors Choose. Our advice to you is to not let the fact that you don’t have the pricier items stop you! Start off simple and build over time. Later, we added in bean bags, bean bag chairs, cushioned crates, scoop rockers and our favorite… a couch!
Flexible Seating In Action!
Here are some action shots of our students! All we think when we look at them working, is WHERE WAS THIS WHEN WE WERE IN FOURTH GRADE?????? RIGHT?! We mean, COME ON… They look so comfortable!
Where’s Their Stuff?
While you are looking at these pictures, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where is all of their stuff? They don’t have a desk, so where is it?” Great observation! This took some time to figure out! We can’t wait to show you what we came up with! …and by the way, we have to tell you that the fact that students do not have a desk is AMAZING! There are no more messy desks or the famous excuse of, “I left it at school in my desk!” For the desks that we did keep in the classroom, we turned the sides that open toward each other so that students cannot use them. The bonus is that I get to use the desks for added storage!
Keeping it All Organized
Our students do not keep their backpacks in the room. Students empty their backpacks and keep them outside. This reduces the amount of clutter in your room and keeps you from tripping over bags all day. The next thing you need to know is that we are an AVID school. All of our students have binders, which we think is IDEAL for the Flexible Seating classroom! Students keep all of their materials inside this binder. We have found that three inch binders are the perfect fit for our needs. In the binder, students have their pencil pouches with supplies, dividers for each subject and paper. The binders travel with the students and they use them for a flat surface to write on.
Here is our Supply Station. The material baskets on the top shelf are community supplies. If students need supplies for the day, they are available for rent, since we use a classroom economy system. The pencil boxes on the second shelf are called their “Safety Deposit Boxes.” Students keep spare, or back up materials, in these safety deposit boxes, so that they are always prepared. THESE HAVE BEEN THE BEST ADDITION! On the bottom shelf, you see student book bins. Students keep books or items that we do not want leaving the classroom inside of them. This is also where we pass out supplies or papers if the students are not in the room.
Attendance, Lunch Count and Absent Students
Attendance in the Flexible Seating classroom isn’t as easy as when you have a desk for each student and you can just quickly see who isn’t there based on an empty seat! To avoid calling each student’s name every day, We have the students move their magnet as they enter the room. At the same time, your lunch count is also done for you. Simply count (or have a student count) how many need a lunch and note the magnets that are left at the top and you’re done! If you look at the picture to the right above, you can see that we have laminated a paper that says, “Absent” and “Lunch Count.” A student does this job each morning and leaves it on our roll book, ready to be marked! If a student is absent, we simply clip the day’s papers on the bottom of our board for them to grab first thing in the morning. A folder on the counter would serve the same function, but this way, it’s out of your way!
Our boards, as you can probably tell, are just cookie sheets!
Entering the Classroom
Here is a video of our students entering our classroom. One of our students is the “Host.” The host calls different groups of students in at a time. This solves the problem of students making a mad dash for the favorite seats and provides everyone a chance at getting first dibs. The arrow on the left hand side is attached to a clothes pin. The clothes pin gets moved down to a new group each day. No more arguing!Super simple… and better yet, this sign is a FREEBIE in our store! Click below to grab it for yourself!
Want to Customize the 1st Choice Seating Chart?
Grab this EDITABLE VERSION! Click the image!
Sit Spots have seriously been amazing in our Flexible Seating Classroom! Direct instruction can become problematic when students are spread all over the room, and sometimes tucked into corners. Whenever we are teaching whole class, students bring their binders in their laps and sit on their Sit Spot. Each student has their own assigned Sit Spot. This allows us to pair students up with ability based partners and we can even create groups based on the color of their Sit Spot. Sit Spots are the brightly colorful dots in the picture above. They are Velcro, so they are perfect for carpets! We do what we need to do whole group, and then the students return to their work area. Interested in Sit Spots? Click below to check them out!
They even have a free sample that you can test out in your classroom! Sit Spots
Flexible Seating Contract
Here is what works for us in our rooms. This Flexible Seating Contract goes over our basic Flexible Seating rules. The contract is given to students and parents at the beginning of the year. It definitely takes time for students to catch on, but once they get it, it works!
In the End…
If we are being honest, there were many moments of frustration and feelings of throwing in the towel, but we pushed through our difficulties and made adjustments when problems surfaced. We can honestly say that Flexible Seating has transformed the way we teach and the way our students learn. The feeling that Flexible Seating creates in your room is one that you MUST feel for yourself. The classroom changes from a stuffy and formal environment to a cozy, personal environment. It opens the flow for communication and conversations that we have never had in our rooms before. You seriously feel like a family and you get to know your students better than ever!
Not only will your students love Flexible Seating, but others will too!
Here’s a few examples… When students from other classes walk by our rooms when the door is open, we hear, “Wow! That classroom looks fun!”
“I really want to be in your class next year!”
“I’ve never seen a classroom like this! Tell me about it!”
“My child told me he/she didn’t have a desk, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself!”
“My child loves your room!”
“He/ She always struggled with sitting in his/her seat and I think this setup will be a game-changer for them!”
We hope that we have provided you with some tips and tools for you to use in your room!
We would love to hear any questions or comments that you have in the Comments below!
Looking for a way to communicate to others about Flexible Seating? We love using Flexible Seating Brochures for Parents, Students, Substitutes, and Classroom Visitors!
Hi there, can you tell me more about your “safety deposit” box? Keeping materials neat and organized has been a big struggle this year transitioning into flexible seating for my students.
Of course! We use binders in our room with a pencil pouch that holds all of their daily tools. Their “safety deposit” box is back up supplies. They have extra pencils and other necessary materials on reserve so that if they need them, they have an “emergency” supply. Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, we would love to help! Enjoy flexible seating! We LOVE it!
Your room is amazing! I took a leap of faith and implemented flexible seating in my room last year, and I’m never going back. I was wondering if you could tell me about the purple topped bench in the first picture. It looks like exactly what I’ve been hunting for this summer. I want a bench with storage for my students to store their boom boxes. Thanks for sharing your ideas!
Hey Hannah! Thanks and yes flexible seating is the best! The purple bench/table is actually a really old piece of furniture that is probably from the 70s 🙂 that we found in our school’s storage. Sorry about that and we hope you find something that works. Hunting for great items to add to the classroom is half the fun! Let us know if we can help you in any other way!
You could try Hobby Lobby, Office Depot or even Home Depot for something like that Hannah.
Hi! Quick question. Your supply shelves themselves. Did those come with the school or did they get purchased from Walmart or target? I’ve been trying to find shelves big enough to hold their book boxes but short enough to use as a surface. So I was curious where you got yours!
Hello! I got these at Target. They are the basic bookshelves. I believe they come in a pack of 2.
HELLO! I’m curious to know where did you find your circle stickers for the floor seats??
Hi, Taira! We actually have a link in this post!
Hi! Love the binder idea! Can you break down the sections you use etc… also what do you do during testing season?
Hello! We are an AVID elementary school, so the whole school uses the same sections: Language Arts, Nonfiction, Math, Writing and AVID. Our testing is done in the computer lab, so we test there. If we tested in our rooms, we would just use testing/study carrels. Hope this helps!