Flexible Seating, Student Choice

Flexible Seating: Year 3

What a difference a year makes! My group last year adapted to flexible seating after maybe two weeks. They all used the furniture appropriately and I never had any issues. Fast forward a year, and it’s mid-November and I’m pulling my hair out. My new group is extremely inquisitive, yet they are struggling with all the choices. They literally push/steal each others seating when they get up to sharpen a pencil (true story), fall off stools daily, and are choosing seats next to their friends repeatedly… which drives me nuts. I refused to pull out the spooner boards and bike pedals for all of September and half of October, but realized maybe this group needs more movement.

While it has taken a while, I finally am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had to set some parameters because the class is boy heavy (17 boys and 11 girls). Last year the rule was two boys and two girls at every table and they had to sit diagonally across from each other. This year I had to get creative: there must be at least one girl at every table, and no more than two girls. I even had to have students select their seats in the afternoon for the following day to cut down on fighting over seats. Students with good behavior got first choice.

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Some of you may have followed my journey with flexible seating. I first dabbled with varying tables. Then I added yoga balls (and hated it)! I went back to stools, and added stationary bike pedals, a standing table, and bean bag chairs. Finally, I added crate seats, spooner boards, and now IKEA Snille ($6) seating with lap desks. Here’s what is working well and what I will adjust for next year:

Standing Tables – This is a popular choice. It has taken a while to get the students to understand the expectations for this table. There is no spinning or ‘surfing’ across the room on the spooner boards. They are only for rocking back and forth. I have stools under the table in case the kids get tired of standing.

Lowered seating – My crate seats are hugely popular. For about $100 I made eight seats. The only complaint is the kids would like some back support like a pillow.

Lap Desks – These have held up for a few years and I’m happy with them. The kids love them too because of the cup holder, etc. These have not held up as well and I will not be purchasing them again.

Foam Squares – These are so simple, yet so effective. While I did “steal” a giant rug from an empty classroom, these foam squares are used when kids have to work on the floor. Students love these and I got them for free on a mom-swap website but are similar to these.

Stationary Bikes – I think these are the most effective for wiggly students. The kids are calm from the waist up, but are peddling away underneath. The only problem is that most are broken after only two years of daily use. I’ll be ordering these again but maybe a different brand for more durability.

What’s working well in your room? Anything you absolutely hate?