Have you heard of flexible seating? Many teachers are transforming their classrooms in an effort to make their learning spaces more student-centered. When I started posting to Instagram and Facebook about my class moving to flexible seating, I was flooded with all kinds of questions from curious and intrigued classroom teachers. I have compiled all of these questions along with answers from myself. I hope that these help you out if you are wanting to learn more about flexible seating!
How did you introduce flexible seating to your students?
I decided to implement flexible seating after coming back from winter break. I spent a lot of time researching and thinking about this process. I wrote down specific things that I wanted to make sure I
explained and demonstrated to my students. i.e. how to sit on the stability/yoga balls, what to do if you wanted to move spots in the middle of an activity, etc. Everything that I could think of as being a potential issue had a plan and response. It is crucial to set up rules/procedures/norms for your students before they begin. I made an anchor chart with the most important rules and for the first week of implementing flexible seating, we revisited this anchor chart every morning. It is also important to stick to these rules, be firm, be fair, and be consistent. The kids need to feel that it is a privilege to have this type of set up and they need to know that you mean business.
Did you have any challenges with students choosing to sit next to their friends and getting distracted?
The benefits far outweigh the challenges when it comes to students sitting next to their friends. Going back to my rule from the anchor chart…”Mrs. Olson has the right to move anyone at any time.” My students enjoy having the opportunity to sit next to a friend but also realize that there are no warnings involved. If they aren’t working, I get to move them. It has an interesting way of being its own built-in incentive program.
Did you encourage the class to try out each seating option before setting them completely free to choose or did you just set the expectations and then you let them choose?
When introducing my students to flexible seating, I encouraged them to try out each spot within the first week. I stress the importance of self awareness. The students are responsible for finding what feels best for them and what kind of seating will make them the best learner that they can be.
Do you have quite a number of workbooks?
No. We do have several notebooks and folders though. These are stored on crate shelving.
Where do you put all of their stuff?
Most of the supplies from their desks went into crate seat shelving. Crayons, scissors, glue, pencils, highlighters, and markers because community supplies. We didn’t start the year with community supplies but the kids don’t seem to mind having to share. My students do have an art box that stores their own personal art supplies needed for art class. These supplies are not shared.
Do you find that it takes time to pass them out and then collect them?
I place a lot of responsibility on my students when it comes to passing out and collecting supplies. This doesn’t seem to be a lengthy process. I actually find that the time spent passing out and collecting notebooks/folders is shorter in comparison to them trying to dig through their unorganized desks to find something they need. Good bye messy desks!
Where did you buy everything that you use for flexible seating?
Round colored tables are from Classroom Direct
Standing desks are from Hertz Furniture
Stability/Yoga balls are from Oriental Trading Company although I have learned recently that they have been discontinued. You can also buy them at Sport Smith.
Colored bath mats are from Target.
Crates are off Amazon. Click below for affiliate link:
Sterilite 16929006 Storage Crate, Black, 6-Pack
Material for crate seat tops are from a local fabric store.
What did you do with the old desks/tables?
The only piece of furniture that we had to get rid of was one of our tables. We were lucky to be able to trade a table for 5 standing desks from one of our fourth grade teachers in our school. I encourage you to think about the teachers you teach with. Do any of them have different seating options than you? Consider approaching them about swapping out some of their seating options with some of yours. It ends up being a win-win situation for both classrooms!
Did your school finance the seating?
My school supplied the tables and desks. I supplied the actual seating options.
Do your kids argue over seating?
The first week of flexible seating was the toughest. The new seating options in my classroom were the most desired because of their novelty. After about a week, my students were choosing seating that worked best for them as a learner. I tell my students that if anyone is fighting over a seat, I get to choose where they sit for that activity. That seems to do the trick. If one area consistently becomes an area that kids argue about, I will put that area in “time out” for a day or two.
How did you introduce this to the parents?
I use the Remind app to communicate with my parents. As soon as we started using flexible seating in our classroom, I started the conversation with them. I have sent my families pictures of the seating in action along with little updates. I encouraged my families to ask their child about how it was going in our classroom. The parents have been very supportive of this new journey.
How do you manage chatty groups?
I am finding that my students are the most quiet that they have been all year. I’d like to think it’s because of two things. 1.) They are working hard and don’t want to be moved due to unnecessary talking with their neighbors. 2.) They are sitting in a place that allows them to focus and work hard on the task at hand. My seating options are spread out all over the room so the kids are not sitting really close to other groups anymore.
What about procedures when you have a sub?
In my sub notes I have a small explanation about the seating. I also have the anchor chart rules hanging up in the classroom. My students know that the sub has the right to move anyone at anytime as well. I have not had a sub in my classroom since starting flexible seating but I will update this section of the blog post as soon as I do!
How do you do testing?
Testing works out great with this type of seating because my students are spread out even more than they were before. We have a crate shelf that stores all of our folders. The kids use these folders as privacy/test folders. We don’t seem to have any issues with testing.
What does the start of the year look like?
Because I started the flexible seating option in the middle of the year, I can’t answer that question quite yet. I will definitely use this same system next year. I do plan to start the year right away with the different options. The key is MODEL, MODEL, MODEL.
Do your kids have a hard time with not having a space to call their own?
So far, my students are loving their seating options and don’t seem to be affected by not having a specific space. If I do have any students that express this to me, I plan to provide them with a desk of their own. Each year is different. Each classroom is different. Each student is different. Bottom line: Students need to be successful in the classroom. If they need their own space then we, as teachers, need to make adjustments and make that happen for them.
Do your students all come in at the same time?
My students come to class at 8:10 every morning. They are responsible for moving their name on the SMART board for attendance purposes, turning in their BEE binder, putting away their reading bag, reading the morning message, and then choosing their spot to sit. I thought it would be a chaotic start to the day as they rushed to find their desired spot to sit but they are spread out pretty evenly. It has also improved their sense of urgency for making it into the classroom on time since they want to choose their first choice of spot to sit for their morning work time. Again, win-win for the teacher to have all her students in the classroom before the bell rings!
Do you have a rotation of seats?
I do not believe in having assigned seats with the flexible seating option because I think it defeats the purpose of the whole concept. It all comes down to choice. That being said, after I deliver a whole group lesson from the carpet, I release them by rows to make a seat choice. If I started the day by allowing the purple row to choose first, they will not be the first row of students to choose the next time.
What has worked well?
Some of my favorite benefits of having flexible seating has been organized supplies, no more lost assignments hiding in desks, no more wasted Fridays spending time to clean out desks, the increased sense of pride and community, and the level of productivity that my students give me. I have seen a decrease in the number of missing or late assignments. I am also seeing more happy and engaged kids!
What has been the most difficult part of transitioning from traditional to flexible?
I think that the hardest part has been me getting over the fear of it not working out. I have a little bit of a Type A personality. I don’t think I’m alone with that one. Right teachers? I worried about the same worries so many of you have expressed to me. It took a few days for me to realize that this was a good decision for our classroom.
Which kinds of seats do you see the kids liking the best?
My students’ favorite spots have been the floor using the bath mats and the table with the stability/yoga balls. I visited with another teacher friend of mine and I asked her this same question. In her classroom, the balls were rarely used and most of her students loved working on the floor with a clip board or at the table with the bath mats. I think it all comes down to the make up of your classroom and students.
Do you have the same number of seats as you have students?
I have 7 extra spots in my classroom. This does not include the clipboard and floor choice because this can be an unlimited number. I think that this point is important to make because if you move a student out of the spot that they are working in, you will need to have another option to place them in. Another reason to have some extra spots is because not all students are going to work well in all of the spots. So, if you have a student, for example, that does not like to work from a standing desk, it would be a shame if this was the only and last available spot to choose to work. I would say that the flexible seating system would be failing that student if this happened.
What if I don’t have a very big classroom?
Although some of my pictures make my classroom appear to be large, it really isn’t. I think that flexible seating has actually provided my classroom with more space because the kids are sitting in groups. When it comes to furniture in my classroom, I have a total of 3 round tables and 5 standing desks. I do plan to pull in a couple of desks to place in quiet corners of the room as another option for those who prefer to work in a quiet place by themselves. There is still quite a bit of room for natural flow of traffic.
What is the least favorite seating option in your classroom?
For the first half of the school year, my students sat on crate seats. This is their least favorite option at the moment (I am 2 weeks in) but I also attribute that to the fact that they have used crate seats all year and the other options are new. Time will tell.
What do the kids have to say about flexible seating?
This was a question that I got within the first couple of days of trying out flexible seating in my classroom so I decided to write down comments (good, bad, and ugly) that were made by my students.
“This is awesome.”
“Mrs. Olson, how did we get so lucky?”
“Does this mean that we won’t ever have assigned seats again? Won’t it get crazy?”
“I like to stand when I work. It’s so much better than sitting all day.”
“Last night I told my mom and dad how cool our classroom is!”
“Can I bring my parents into school to see our classroom?”
“Will my teacher do this with us next year?”
What seating options do you have in your classroom?
So far I have 5 standing desks, 5 stability/yoga balls at a table, 6 rugs at a table, 2 sensory squish cushions (not sure what they’re called!), 3 regular chairs, 6 crate seats at a table, and a class set of clipboards. I plan to submit a request for 6 hokki stools from Donor’s Choose. I am also considering bringing in a couple of desks for my students who prefer to work alone in their own space.
How do you do direct instruction?
The majority of my direct/whole group instruction is done from our carpet. I do give assigned spots on the rug because I prefer to strategically place my students next to a good fit, turn & teach partner. We do a lot of turn and talks.
How can I save money doing this in my classroom?
Have you heard of Donor’s Choose? If you don’t have financial support from your district’s administration nor do you have other classrooms to trade with, I would definitely try out Donor’s Choose. The application process is pretty easy and projects are funded daily!
I would also consider reaching out to your families and local businesses. They may have bean bags, couches, yoga balls, clipboards or maybe even be willing to donate money towards the purchase of these items!
Here are some links to other resources about flexible seating:
Flexible Classrooms: Providing the Learning Environment That Kids Need
Rethinking the Classroom: Spaces Designed for Active and Engaged Learning and Teaching
Feel free to pin this image to your Pinterest board so you can refer back to this post later too!
If you have any other questions that you don’t see answered in this post, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and I can edit this post to get your question answered!
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My biggest fear is your biggest fear: That it won't work out. I feel a little better after reading your blog post but I still am scared. I know the benefits will greatly outweigh my fear but it is the getting started. I am trying to think of a time to do it. I have a Donor's Choose project listed for Hokki Stools. I posted it two weeks ago and I am about half funded. I think if I get this, it will give me the push I need. THANK YOU for an excellent post!!!!!!!!
Thanks for your feedback Susan. I think another key point to make is that if you are feeling hesitant or out of your comfort zone, this is also something to take into consideration. I think that when I classroom transforms into this type of setting, the teacher has to be comfortable with it too. I'd love to hear an update from you if you decide to take the plunge!
I think you just have to jump right in. When teachers have asked me if they can do this type of seating, we place the desks in storage. You can always go back to desks but you can’t say something doesn’t work until you try it. Give yourself at least a marking period or 9 weeks to make a decision to keep it or go back to the traditional way.
I've been doing a lot of research & am really thinking about doing flexible seating next year (I am on maternity leave for the rest of this year)…my one thing I believe I will run into a problem with administration is for state testing, which is unfortunately made a big deal of in my school and students sit at their desks, moved into rows during those testing times. I'm not sure how I could convince my admin that it's ok if kids choose a different seat even during those testing times.
Two Little Birds
Hi Jen. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. In regards to state testing, I definitely understand that concern. In my school we have about 5 classrooms that have some form of flexible seating. Our principal purchased them dividers for them to use during the test. I'm not sure if that solves the problem or not but that is how we are getting around that. I'd love to hear an update on this from you!
I’m concerned with this as well but more that the students won’t do well when they have to sit in a desk for state testing. I used flexible seating when I taught kinder and LOVED it. It helped with collaboration and exploration. I moved to second grade last year and my students really struggled with the benchmark tests when they are required to sit in desks. My administration is wonderful and supports me but I’m afraid I’m doing a disservice to my students.
Hi! I did a partial switch to flexible seating last year with floor seating and regular tables and raised tables. (From previously using desks only) In order to be able to comply with testing regulations, I kept just enough desks in my room so I could have one student per table then desks for the rest. I used the desks along the walls for things like the printer, pencil sharpener, lamps, etc. Then when it came time for testing, my kids had assigned spots and knew to pull out the desks and where to place them. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much for your thorough overview of how you implemented flexible seating in your classroom! I have really been inspired to transition to this model in my own classroom. You have shown me that it does not take lots of money or additional furniture to create alternative seating options. Thanks again for answering our questions and for your wonderful blog posts!
Hi Josanne! Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad this post shined some light on the money and additional furniture piece. I appreciate you stopping over!
I moved to a tablelss classroom this year. It was a lot of work but the pay off was super wonderful! It took some time to teach them that they could sit anywhere in the room. Spread out I would say. I did keep one small table and recently got rid of that one as well because it was the loudest place in the room! I love it now and won't go back. We do use the rocker seats from Walmart due to our winters making the floors wet and cold. They love those seats and the best part my families bought enough for all of them to have one if they so choose to sit in one. I also have mats and benches they can work at as well as a couch and coffee table they often sit around.
Hi Jacqueline. I'd love to see a picture of your room. It sounds neat! I didn't get rid of all my tables either, simply for the reason that I do have students that prefer that type of seating. Thanks for your feedback and for stopping by my blog!
What a great post! It really makes me want to try flexible seating in my classroom.
Thanks for stopping over to read it Adri!
How did you purchase your stand up tables?
Hi Gemma. The stand up tables were purchased over the summer using our capital outlay funds. We reserve that fund for bigger ticket items.
Hey Angie! We do testing with computer every quarter, but the cart comes to our classroom! how would this work for flexible seating? Each student sits to take the test that goes for about 35 minutes at most. I teach Kindergarten. Thanks!
Hi Brittney. If it was me, I'd have dividers for each student to use for testing situations. Another point that I like to make when teachers bring up testing is that I am not an advocate for getting rid of all tables and desks. I think it's important to keep these in the classroom for those students who prefer that type of working environment and in this case, for testing situations. Hope that helps!
This INFORMATION Is What I needed! I want to slowly transition to flexible seating. Right now I only have 6 floor pillows, 1 video chair, and 1 bean bag that students use during rotations or read to self. I submitted my first donor's choose project to offer more. Reading and researching this makes me so excited! Thank you!
Hi Lesa. How exciting for you! I hope that your Donor's Choose project gets funded! Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave me feedback!
Great blog post! Thank you for all the information. I'm a little type A as well! It's great to hear about the initial struggle as well as the success! Thanks for the honesty!
Hi Ashley. I completely understand the Type A! 🙂 If you are thinking about doing something like this in your classroom, I also think it's important to know that there isn't just one way to do this. Depending on the comfort level of the teacher, this could look different in your classroom. I have heard of teachers that have successfully implemented flexible seating by keeping their desks but offering other options for chairs. Maybe also include clipboards, bean bags, etc if they want to choose to sit somewhere other than a desk. Just some options to think about. Thanks for stopping over and reading my blog.
This was a great post. Your video was great. I'm still nervous to try this but your post answered a lot of the questions I have. Thanks so much!
This sounds awesome and totally something I would do in my class! The only trouble is my students eat breakfast every morning in class. How would this work? We also use a learning model called Blended Learning. Blended Learning is where the teacher teaches the whole group for 40 mins to an hour and then for an hour, the students break into their groups and rotate between three stations- 1. guided practice (teacher lead), digital learning (Chromebook, tablet, or laptop depending on the grade), and then collaboration, which is where this would come in handy. As it is, my kinder babes can take their tablet for the digital station wherever they'd like for the most part, but we don't have the cool seating you do!
Hi Sara. I always tell teachers that every classroom is going to look different depending on the resources available and the comfort level of that teacher. In my classroom, the whole group instruction piece is always done on the rug in front of the smart board and easel. The independent/group/partner work gets done at the tables or around the classroom. This may or may not work for you but just know that there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do it. I think the main focus is what will work for you and your students all while allowing them to be successful. Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking time to leave feedback!
Can you please let me know what the brand of the standing desks are? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Lisa
Hi Lisa. The desks came from Hertz Furniture. I'm unsure of the brand as I'm not the one that ordered them. The contact person that our school used was Richard Berger. Hope that helps!
Do they sit in flexible seating for whole group instruction? If not, how do you do your whole group teaching?
Hi Lori. The majority of my whole group teaching is done on the rug. Each child has an assigned spot on the rug so that I can pair them up with the appropriate "turn and teach partner". I also feel like I get the most focus when they are there. My easel and Smart Board are also placed near the rug, which I tend to use a lot for whole group instruction. Hope that helps!
HI Angie- I'm really intrigued by this idea. I'm going to talk to my principal about the idea as soon as I can. Where/how do you conduct your reading groups? And are community supplies stored in crates and then kids just go get what they need when needed? So if an assignment calls for glue sticks and scissors, students go get those supplies from designated area and then go back to their chosen spot to work?
Hi Angie, I teach 1st grade and my name is also Mrs. Olson?. I have 26 desks. I am concerned about that many options. How many students do you have? Love your post. Are you strict with management? I’m still getting better as this will be my fourth year at first grade.
Hi Mrs. Olson! 🙂 This year I had 18 students in my class…lowest number ever! I know that flexible seating can still be done with more students though. I have other teacher friends that have successfully implemented it with anywhere between 20-30 students. As far as management, yes, I am very strict with that part because I think we have to be otherwise this concept could go very wrong. Hope that helps!
Hi Angie! I was wondering what grade you teach? The idea of flexible seating is very interesting to me. I have 4th grade reading – 6 classes as we are departmentalized! Do you think this would work? Also, I would have to have desks but I could use the floor, clipboards, and I do have a kidney table. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hello! I teach 2nd grade but I know that this concept can work in 4th grade because at the school I teach at, we have 3 sections of 4th graders that have successfully implemented flexible seating. They also switch for tier math and tier reading groups. That being said, it may be easier for them to do this since they all have flexible seating in their classrooms so all the kids know the expectations. I still think this can be implemented successfully for your 6 classes as long as you are clear, firm, and consistent with your expectations. As for other ideas, I have seen the scoop/rocker seats, stability balls, stability cushions, rugs, crates, and regular chairs all be great options as well. Hope that helps and best of luck to you!
This was a great post. Thank you for letting subunits your classroom! I was wondering what grade you teach? I’m also wondering if you use centers in your classroom? If so, how does that work with the flexible seating?
Hi Bethany. I teach 2nd grade. I do use centers/stations for math and guided reading groups. Each activity is placed around the classroom. The students usually just use the option that is at that station when it comes to seating. That being said, my students also know that if an option doesn’t work for them, they can just switch it out. I have plenty of seating options in my classroom so running out of choices isn’t an issue. Does that make sense?
What size round table do you have? What size exercise ball do you use?
Hi Audrey. My round tables are 60″ and I’m not sure on my stability balls. I had ordered them from Oriental Trading Company but they are no longer listed so I can’t go back and find that.
I’m so glad I found your post. I’ve been teaching 14 years. Last year was my first year teaching kindergarten. I want to start using flexible seating. I’m just scared how to start. We have to do centers how would you recommend doing centers with flexible seating?
Hi Stacey. I think that with more than enough seating options, centers can still be done. I know that when I do math stations, the kids use the seating option that is at the assigned activity. My students also know that if they aren’t comfortable with a seating choice, they can make a change. For example, if stability balls are at the place value station, they can grab a chair to sit on instead of using the ball. Does that make sense? It’s a shift in thinking…being more student-centered…it took a little bit of a release of control for me but it was a positive decision for my students and me in our classroom.
I am exactly in the same spot you were in last school year. After teaching 14 years, I landed my first time in kindergarten for the 17-18 school year. We are about 2 1/2 months from the end of the year. I am interested in trying flexible seating with my babies. Did you try it? How did it go? Also, if you did, what did you purchase or were you able to try it with out purchasing anything? (I know the question sounds crazy, but my AP said to try it with out purchasing anything first.)
I implemented flexible seating in my middle school classroom (6th grade) halfway through the year.. My students love it. I have 5 stations with different configurations including standing stations and sitting on top of desks. As long as everyone is safe, it is ok with me. Using Google forms I send a survey asking students to rank their desired spot to “sit”. That’s how we get started. We change seats about every 4 weeks or when I feel it is necessary. I’ve managed to keep enough “standard seating spaces” for students to use as their “reserved/ assigned seats” these are for days when a sub is present. On days when”open seating” is permitted, this is when children move to designated options. They can also chose a space that is not occupied by an absent student.
This is great! I have been wanting to try this for a while now. I think my biggest concern – and part of the reason I haven’t tried it yet – is how it will affect the students the following year if that teacher does not use flexible seating. Any thoughts on this?
Hi Jennifer. Since this was my first year of using flexible seating, I am not able to answer that question. My thoughts on this are that I don’t want to hold back on something that I feel may be best for kids just because the next year’s teacher may not do it too. Does that make sense? It’s not meant to sound harsh but instead just my thinking. Hope that helps! I may have to do an update to this post once my students start their year in 3rd grade since they don’t do flexible seating in that grade.
I teach first grade and my administrator has given me permission to try out flexible seating. Your posts have given me some wonderful advice and tips.
Can you tell me the size of your round table that has the six bath rugs around it? I was hoping to purchase a round table in the near future and am hoping it will seat 6 students as your round table does. I am looking at a 48 in round but am not sure it will be big enough.
Thanks so much for your help!
Hi Stacey! How exciting for you! I believe my round tables are 60″ and they do fit 6 students around them. Hope that helps and good luck to you!
How do you handle things such as Science labs? Do the students chose their seat and that is their group or something else?
Hi May. If you have assigned groups for science labs that should still work out. They may have to move the seat that works for them to their science lab area but given those choices, it can work.
What grade level do you see flexible seating no longer working? I really want to try this out. I could be teaching second or fourth next year. I haven’t found much on upper elementary with the seating.
Hello! I definitely think that flexible seating can work in fourth grade. In my school, there are three sections of fourth grade. All three sections have adopted some kind of flexible seating in their classroom. It definitely can be done.
In my school, it was some innovative 4th/5th grade teachers who brought the idea of flexible seating into the forefront by implementing it in their classrooms with incredible success. Some of us primary teachers (I teach first grade) were intrigued, but more hesitant (i.e. seems amazing, but can 5-8 year-olds really handle this?) Last year, a few of us primary teachers took the risk and the benefits (self-efficacy, independence, problem-solving, building a strong community, and actual LEARNING) far outweighed the amount of pre-teaching / management involved. At the start of this school year, about 40% of our teaching staff is implementing flexible seating. I hope that percentage grows. Children can “handle” it at any age and the benefits are worth it.
I noticed that you said you serve breakfast in the classroom. We also do that. How do you manage breakfast on the first few days? We have parents coming in and wanting to talk, kids who don’t know routines needing things…..I’m nervous about that!! Any tips/tricks?
Hi Jessica. My kids don’t eat breakfast in the classroom. That being said, for the first week of school, I would probably start the year with some tables or countertops for the kids to sit at while eating their breakfast. I’m not sure if you have access to enough surfaces like this but that is what I would do.
Hi Angie! This will be my first year implementing flexible seating and I’m beyond excited. Thank you for the informative page! I was wondering where you got your rug. I’m looking for something similar. Thank you and have a wonderful school year!
Hi! I think I’m going to do flexible seating this year in my 3rd grade class. I’m very interested in seeing pictures of where students store their belongings. I have a partner and we switch classes midday. I teach math and science to both classes. I’m just trying to logistically plan out where their supplies would be stored. We don’t have traditional “cubbies” at my campus. Thanks!
Hi Tabitha. We store our supplies in shelving and crates that are turned on their sides. We have reading bags and art boxes that are stored on the shelves. We also have some community supplies that we keep in table caddies. Hope that helps! If you’d like a picture of what that all looks like, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I can send it your way!
Hi thank you for sharing your experience with flexible seating. I implemented it half way through last school year with my 1st graders. I was wondering what your thoughts are about beginning the school year with flexible seating with 1st graders? Some of my colleagues are starting the school year with traditional seating then transitioning to flexible seating. But I wanted to start day one with flexible seating. What are your thoughts?
Hi Veronica. In my opinion, if you plan to do flexible seating, I would start it right away. Lay out the rules, model, practice, repeat…you can do it!
Do you have designated center space or do children bring center activity/work to own work spot
Hi Soraya. If we are doing centers in my classroom, they do have a designated space to work. If it is at a table and they don’t like the seating option they are using, they know they are free to trade it out for something that works better for them. It has worked fine for us to do it this way. Hope that helps!
I love your blogs and I was recently featured by our district for flexible seating. When I was asked where I obtained most of my information of course I gave credit where credit is due and told them about your blog. You blog was one of the sites I used when presenting this idea to my principal. So I want to say thank you for the great things you provide.
My fourth grade team is also using brag tags this year!!!!
SVUSD69, Village Meadows Elem.
Sierra Vista, AZ
I love your seating options! Another great option is bungee chairs. They are $30 at Target. My students love them!!! Here is a link if you want to take a look:
Jumped in 100% mid-year last year. Included my students along the way. Asked for input and feedback from them as we went. Huge success!
This year…a whole different story. I ended up backing up and assigning seats. I traded bi-weekly so kids could experience regular and low seating. Last year all 9 of my t-stools were used regularly. This year they arent. Just ending 1st quarter and about half of my class is choosing where to sit. It’s going much better after backing uo. This year’s kids are so much more needy and incredibly immature M I think I asked too much from them at first. They simply needed more structure. Another helpful thing is that my reading intervention class is 2/3 4th graders and 1/3 3rd graders. My 4th kiddos are very comfortable with the classroom setup from last year and have been able to model the flexibility for my 3rd graders. Then they model it for their homeroom peers as we return to class.
I seriously considered returing to desks, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now I’m glad I didnt.
Last year I had 24 students with the traditional range of needs, strengths, and weaknesses, and behavior concerns. This year I have 22 kids. 7 behavior problems (3 on plans with hourly documentation ), 8 ELL students, and 2 ERR students–one in my room full time with 30 min. of support each day.
Biggest lesson I learned is that I need to start slow and know my students’ personalities before I ask something of them–just as I would academically. But…I’ll never return to traditional seating on my own will!
I am in process of tranisitioning into flexible seating. I have third graders. What size yoga balls do you reccomend for standard desks? I was told 65 cm would be perfect. What size do you use?
Hi! I have loved reading about how you’ve implemented flexible seating in your classroom. I have been doing a bit of research on this and am really wanting to put this into practice in my own classroom here in Australia. I have spoken to my Principal and he seems quite keen on me doing this. However, one question that he raised, and it was one that I had been thinking about myself, was how do you know how many of each type of seating to have? I don’t want to have too many of one and not enough of another. Do you just start with some and see how they go? I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Could you tell me where you purchased the colorful striped rug? I love the colorful “row” idea for my Art classroom! Transitioning from the rug to the chairs would be color groups! Love It!
How did this work out at the start of the year before students have routines down? Do you think it’s best to establish routines before or after introducing flexible seating? I’m a college senior about to start student teaching and really want to try something like this when I have my own room, I’m just afraid that it will make the room a free for all in September versus starting in January.
Hi! I am a first year teacher and I was wondering if this will work in my classroom. I am also planning on doing this after winter break? Please give me an advice, as a first year teacher… should I try it? Or should I wait until next year?
I’ve been doing research for developing a gifted program in a brand new school opening next year. (I will also be the teacher, hehe.) This answered a lot of questions for me. My boss is really about getting away from desks completely, but I was one of those kids that liked having my own space and enjoyed working solo. Good to see I’m not the only one having this thought, lol. I will definitely be keeping a few traditional desks for those who prefer it.
I am writing a grant to be able to begin flexible seating next year with my first graders. THANK YOU for so much information!!! AWESOME!
Just implementing flexible seating in 2017 -18 school year, so a bit behind ya’ll. If anyone is thinking of Donors.choose.org I raised $950 for my project!! Fully funded in 2weeks. I am going to phase in the seating. Each week I plan on rotating through groups through a specific type of seating. I was then planning on letting them vote/choose their top seating and BAM a weekend transformation of a classroom they created. I was wondering if you foresee problems with this approach, from experience now.
I love how you jumped in. I’ve had alternative seating in my classroom for a few years, but still had desks. I am “jumping in” this school year to zero desks. I will have tables and other options, but I’m ready for this new adventure. I agree, the messy/unorganized desk syndrome always had some kids looking FOREVER for folders, work, supplies. When I had them put certain things in file crates, they always found it. I think this system will work well for me! Thanks for sharing your adventure. If you have an update on how it went this last school year, I’d love to read about it!
Hi, Love all the info you’ve given me to think of.. A few questions, do you feel this would work with kindergarteners? I have 6 scooter rockers, 3 lap pads, 2 garden chairs..like kids’ adirondack chairs, 2 crates, 6 stuffed bed pillows that I’ve stuffed and sown into pillow cases to use with lowered tables, one table high enough for kids to use while standing. What do you feel will be the hits? And 15 regular chairs to fill in where ever needed. Two 7 seater flower tables. 2 30″ x 36″ rectangular tables.
I currently am scheduled to start with 15 students. How many clipboards would you recommend I start with?
Any other suggestions any one would like to offer. Much appreciated.
Hi! Thank you for this post! I am trying flexible seating for the first time this year with my first graders and this answered a lot of my questions! The only concern I have is what to do about student storage. You mentioned crate storage but I did not see a picture of it? Do you mean you made shelves out of crates or that every student in the class has a seat crate somewhere in the room where they keep their crayon box, workbooks, etc..? Thank you!
Milk crates can be used as storage/seats or they can be turned sideways and stacked against the wall as shelves.
Thanks for sharing your ideas. I think a flexible seating classroom is a great idea. My son benefits greatly from being able to use a standing desk.
I am a preschool teacher piloting flexible seating. We received Ergo chairs, Wobble chairs, Soft cushions, 3 bean bag chairs and footed yoga balls. There are 39 choices for 24 students. The biggest challenge is that students eat breakfast and lunch in the classroom so I have been cautious about getting rid of tables. 1/2 the classroom is carpet so the tables to eat at are on the uncarpeted area.
I am seriously considering flexible seating in my first grade classroom next year. I just wanted to say this was a wonderfully informative blog!! Thank you so much for answering so many of the questions I was having!
I spent a great deal of time to find something like this
I teach first grade. I tried flexible seating last year starting day one, and about lost it two weeks in due to students ruining items (cutting cushions with scissors, scraping furniture with scissors, cutting my carpets and rugs, scribbling all over the furniture with crayons, etc). I couldn’t believe I had spent all that money for them to ruin the things I bought.
I brought in desks, so that every student could have a “home base” due to complaints from parents about them not feeling like they had a place to go that was their own. I then slowly put cushions and rugs back into the classroom, and lowered tables for centers/stations only (ex: writing center with stools, poetry center with lowered table and cushions, work work with kneeling table or rugs, reading with chairs and cushions, technology with rugs/cushions/desks, standing table for maker space, crate seats for teacher table, etc). I also allowed them to use their desk or a clipboard and the floor for independent activities.
This year I would like to try again. I think my main problem was that I didn’t have enough options of seating for everyone to choose other than desks or clipboards. I am planning on adding a few more seating options this year, so that maybe it will go better. I am going to have the students “earn” their flex seating, so that there is more buy-in. I think because I started right away, the kids took advantage and assumed this was normal and deserved for them. I want them to know that the classroom could look very plain if I took everything home, but that I want them to have the best opportunity to learn well and be comfortable, and free to move.
I really believe this is best for the kids, so why is this so difficult to implement? haha! I hope it goes better this next year.
I love your idea. I am an Intervention Specialist for grades 9-12 at a charter school that is designed for students with special needs. I think even at the high school level, something like this could work. Thank you for sharing it. I’m pitching the idea to our school administration and the Intervention Team. I think the flexible seating could be modified to be more accommodating to our age group.
I’m heading into my first year. Flexible seating has always been on my priority list!!! Such a great article!
Love the information in this blog about flexible seating!
These are some great questions to ask if alternative seating is good for a classroom.
I tried flexible seating last school year and loved it. I had to put it away this year because of covid. I hope to use it again in the future. Love your blog.