Monday, October 3, 2016

Flexible Seating Update No.1

FINALLY!   As September is coming to a close, I am able to take some time and jot down some thoughts about our venture in trying out flexible seating in the classroom.  First off, big hit from students AND parents alike.  I was actually quite surprised at the overwhelming response we received from parents.  For some reason, I thought for sure we'd be getting some complaints, but we received nothing but compliments.  The only grunts came from siblings that we jealous because they didn't have these options in their classrooms; go figure! 

As both experienced teachers, we knew kids and things that might need to be in order at first.  We knew that we needed rules set in place from the start.  We discussed this with our students day one.  We wanted to stress that this was a privilege; therefore, rules needed to be in place and stress particulars about certain seating options.  For example, stability balls are not to be bounced on or kicked around the classroom.  We also wanted students to know that we had the option to remove them from seating if they are not using it responsibility. We of course felt that students can learn best when they felt comfortable and with some movement; but others may need the structure of a desk so we left a few in our classroom! We offered a variety of options for the students to use, such as ottomans, yoga mats, a lounger, foldable seats, stability balls, and husbands. To ensure more flexibility with places to work , we provided a standing table (a table with bed risers) and a table with no legs, so that students can sit on the carpet! Clipboards also needed to be provided so that students not at tables can still write or complete activities.

As with anything new; this is a learning experience for myself and my co-teacher.  These are the things we learned.

1. Certain seating options need to be located in a certain area of the classroom.  For example, certain chairs like our chairs with wheels, need to stay in their location.  We found that certain students loved certain chairs yet wanted to move them around the room after EVERY subject, and too much time was used to get them settled are start of a new lesson! 

2. Often times as we were teaching, kids would be all over the classroom and we realized!they simply could not focus! We decided that for whole group instruction, they needed to be in certain spots in the classroom. Likewise, certain spots were off limits too during this instruction too! As an inclusion classroom, some students needed modifications that were more challenging for me to provide when they were all over the classroom. This allows me to work smarter, not harder. Therefore, larger tables needed to be used during testing. 

3. We realized that we needed more desks! Some students actually prefer an actual desk to call their own. This would have been me as a child! Quote simply, some had to have their own working spot, especially to help with the organization of their supplies. Even though we had certain spots in our classroom allocated for certain supplies, and students were given their own bin; this still posed to be a problem. Some also could not handle sitting with friends, but if they were moved to a desk, they clearly understood it was for their benefit! 

4. We realized that the variety of choices could be considered as a negative too! Some students became overstimulated and overly concerned if they were able to get certain seating, and it became a problem with bickering and the like. We tried to combat this problem, by allowing only our two helpers of the week to be allowed in sit in certain options like our lounger! Additionally, there was a need to clarify a need to switch seating after a certain lesson.

5.  We also had to clarify the need to respect our seating options. These cost of these options, came out of our pockets and there was a need to reiterate to respect any and all "furniture".  No placing feet on desks, chairs. No laying on options that were meant to sit on! No kicking ottomans! No tilting in chairs with four legs (we actually lost a couple of stools due to bent legs.)

6. Some students were using multiple seating options at a time; that too needed to be addressed! This proved to destroy some of our options and kept other students from using these options! 

7. Finally, some seating needed to be taken away to later be reintroduced back into our classroom. For example, students were not using the stability balls correctly. Since being a hot commodity, we felt the need to remove them from our classroom. This again, goes back to respecting our items! As students can demonstrate their respect for other seating options, we will slowly reintroduce the stability balls! 

As for now, with having worked out a few speed bumps, we are all smiles (for now).... More to come in the future!