If you were to walk into your child’s classroom this year, you might find it missing the typical rows of desks that you probably remember from your own school days. Several classrooms around the district are trying something known as flexible seating, or student-centered classroom design. The above pictures are all from Rachel Bickford’s second-grade classroom at Atwood Primary.
For Miss Bickford, the need for a shift became evident last year as she saw her students struggling with self-regulation and staying on task. “I kept going to [our] OT for balance discs and other tools to use,” she said. “I decided that I wanted to try something that could help these students.” When she and fellow Atwood teacher Maggie Solis found an article on flexible seating, they decided to spend the summer researching the approach and ultimately ended up creating classrooms with a wide array of options and tools for learning.
The different seating options include balance balls and discs, group work tables, reading nooks and more. Each day students are able to choose which space works best for their own needs and learning style with the knowledge that they can move to a different spot if it is not working for them, and the teacher can move them if they are not meeting the agreed upon expectations. The choice gives them more ownership over their learning experience and helps them to develop a greater awareness of what they need as learners and what they need to do to stay focused. “It has been wonderful to start off the year with something fresh that the children seem to love, and they have been more on task because of the different seating options to choose from,”said Miss Bickford.
Principal Jennifer McGee describes flexible seating as, “a cost effective option for children to learn how to become self-regulated and ready to learn through their seating choices.” According to research, flexible seating not only increases motivation and engagement but can also improve a student’s overall health by encouraging movement and improving core strength and overall posture.
For more information on the benefits of flexible seating go to: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flexible-seating-student-centered-classroom-kayla-delzer