Flexible Seating: What About . . .

Two weeks into flexible seating and we’re still big fans. But what about . . . . the questions people have.

Where do they keep all of their stuff?

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Every student has a book bin and a pencil box to keep their things in. Classwork folders, homework folders, a good book or 3 to read, and cursive booklets all easily fit in the book bins. Their pencil boxes house pencils, erasers, crayons, password cards, and other trinkets that seem to be magnetically attracted to 7 and 8 year olds.

This is where the fact that I’d already ditched the desks in favor of tables helped me a lot. I’m not sure I would have been able to wrap my little mind around flexible seating if I hadn’t already dealt with the question of, “Where will they keep their stuff.”

On my first attempt, I lined up all of the IMG_1694.JPGbook bins and pencil boxes on our one big counter. The book bins worked, but we had traffic jams. If students all needed to go get a pencil and their classwork folder there was a monster back-up of Southern CA freeway proportions. Today, after school, I rearranged things and we now have 4 groups of book bins and pencil boxes spaced out on counter tops around the room.

As for the textbooks they’re in the cupboard. If we need a reading anthology, science book, or social studies text we get in a line, take the one on top and walk away.

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Don’t the kids fight over seats?

No. I did have to establish a clear rule again seat stealing. If someone gets up for a minute to get a pencil or go to the bathroom you can’t take their seat. With that taken care of there has only been one time when I had to step in over a seat dispute. And the rule is if I have to get involved, neither of the squabblers will be able to sit at the seat.

Won’t they sit next to their friends and talk?

Yes they talk. Flexible seating isn’t a magic cure-all for students talking instead of silently working. They talked when they had assigned seats and they talk now. What I can do now, so much more easily than I could before, is move kids. There are always open seats somewhere and it isn’t a big deal to sit in a different seat. I have and I will readily ask students who are too distracted by a neighbor to go sit at a different seat.

How do you like it?
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I love it. I can’t say enough about it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to traditional desks. It isn’t just about giving kids a comfy place to sit, it is about a whole change in classroom environment. It is one of the most powerful things I’ve done for my students. I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for another blog.

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18 thoughts on “Flexible Seating: What About . . .

  1. Thank you for the information. I want to do it. My principal says she’s all for doing things differently. I just want to make sure I have an answer to every question she might have before I actually do it. School’s almost here. I’d better hurry!

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    • Tracy, sorry I’m slow to respond. I’m glad you’re going for it. I think it is important to think things out, and be very intentional about what you’re doing. I hope it is going well for you!

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      • I really like it. From all of the blogs I read, I thought it was going to be torturous for the first two weeks but I’ve only been in school for eight days and I think it’s going very well.

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  2. I can’t wait to try flexible seating this year! My only concern is, what do you during morning procedures, do they choose where they want to sit for the day as they enter the room? Thanks.

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    • Sorry I’m so slow to answer Stephanie. When my 2nd graders come in there is an activity in our Pick Up Tray that they get to work on. They choose a spot that works well for them, aka they sit wherever they want. Once we’re ready to get going we do our morning business all up on the rug together. Kids can choose a new seat anytime during the day. They may sit one place for math, and another place for silent reading etc.

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    • I got mine a Lakeshore Learning Store. Those are just for their books they’re reading, their journal, their WiP (work in progress) folder, and their scroll (a papertowel roll with connected sheets of 100s charts so they can write from 1 to the 1000s…if they can…throughout the year.) I got two 3-drawer bins from Target for super cheap, $10/each, to put their practice books for math and lang. arts. It’s working out.

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    • I did. Be VERY clear about how it’s NOT ok to pop a yoga ball with your pencil. Yea, it happened on day 3. Now he’s off the ball until he gives me $10 or replaces the ball. Turkey!!

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    • I did start the first day of school. That was a first for me, but it was a piece of cake. One of our first conversations as a class was about how our seating works. For the first 4 days I assigned kids to a type of seating (low table, rug, high table, normal tables) and I had them rotate through all the types each day. We had lots of conversations about what we liked and didn’t like. Then they were free to choose their own seats and they’re doing a great job!

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  3. Carolyn,

    How do you handle flexible seating when you need to do a whole group instruction? Is everyone in a place that they can have ” eyes on teacher”?

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    • For me, every time a teacher was giving away a table I took it and ditched desks. I inherited this MASSIVE 8×5 foot teacher table. It holds NINE kids. It’s awesome!!

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  4. Thank for sharing about where to put their “stuff.” I am going all out this year with flexible seating and eliminating traditional seating in my third grade room. I am scared to death, but I know if I don’t take the plunge, I never will. Any more tips you care share about keeping thief stuff organized?

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    • I have some 3-drawer bins that I keep full of language arts practice books, and then math PBs. Nice thing is, I have an ottoman next to these drawers and I ask the helper of the day to get the books out and lay them on the ottoman for the kids to get after a lesson. They are ALWAYS allowed to sit with each other and help each other on their practice books. It’s SO much better than making them sit there silently and do their work. I’m not much for a silent classroom. I want them to help each other, encourage each other. Test time is the ONLY time they have to do stuff on their own and can’t talk.

      I ended up moving my yoga balls to the computer stations. There was too much fighting over the balls at the regular tables. Then I got stools and those became everyone’s favorites. I found something on TPT about a flexible seating contract and book that the kids read and have to promise to use the chairs, etc. properly. Last year was my first year of doing it and I never got so many compliments from adults about how nice my class looked. The kids loved the more comfortable feel. I asked the kids at the end of last year if they liked the seating and only two kids said they didn’t because they preferred to have their own desks and their own stuff right in front of them. I didn’t let any kids bring any personal stuff into the classroom. I told them to save it for their special homework space at home. All supplies were community supplies so there was NO arguing over stuff. That was NICE!!

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