January 23, 2017

5 Flexible Seating Strategies for the classroom

Kayla Hammons
A woman sits in an orange bean bag chair holding a tablet

Flexible seating is an easy concept for you to introduce into your learning space, and this gives students an interactive environment. Many teachers notice students struggle to pay attention during their lectures, and by implementing flexible seating strategies you can improve students’ focus. There are many ways you can incorporate unconventional seating areas into your classroom, and the following flexible seating strategies will assist you in making this transition.

Timing is Key

When deciding to flip around the seating arrangement in your classroom, your timing can be a mitigating factor in your success. The perfect time to implement change is at the beginning of the school year, following a holiday break, or at the start of a new unit. In the beginning of a new term, students are more willing to take on new roles in the classroom because they lack defined routines. As long as you consider the time of year you implement flexible seating strategies you will increase your potential success.

Encourage Safety of Your Students

Flexible seating strategies are beneficial if you encourage the safety and protection of your students. This may seem like a normal concern, but adding in flexible seating you can have new disruptions in your classroom. Even though you have become “flexible” in your seating arrangements rules must still be in place. Many teachers choose to have these rules posted in the classroom so that students can reference them at any time. Teachers should encourage students to enjoy a healthy environment by respecting the space they are seated.

Prepping for Seating Arguments

Students, when faced with these new options, will inherently want to occupy the same space. A small argument could arise over who gets to sit on the bean bag chairs, and this situation can be easily resolved. According to teachers, arguments diminish after the first week and students move to their most beneficial areas. For example, even though exercise balls seem like a good seat, some students cannot concentrate on a bouncy ball. Guide your students toward their most productive path, and you no longer have to worry about students arguing over popular areas. However, if you still notice an issue over seating, you can rotate the seating options or choose specific seats for students. If one area becomes an issue, you can rope it off so that no students have access until they learn to compromise. Remember, students creating their own seating solutions teach themselves how to problem solve.

Include Parents

One of the best flexible seating strategies includes informing parents about the new structure of your classroom. Once you start students in your flexible seating environment, you should develop an open dialogue about the progress with the parents. Many teachers email, use apps, and send messages to parents updating them on the journey. Parents can support children at home, and help influence them to make better seating decisions while they are in the class. To have the flexible seating environment supported in the home, and at school, is instrumental in your classroom’s success.

Create Extra Seating Options

An excellent way to minimize conflict over seating choices is to have the seating options exceed the number of students in your class. You don’t know how well students will work in each location, and having additional seats give them a chance to explore their options without conflict.

How will you use these flexible seating strategies to successfully change the structure of your classroom? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments below!