Of course they aren't always this quiet and it does not always look this calm in my classroom. Clearly, this was a moment that I needed to celebrate. I needed to video this amazing group of students who were engaged, focused and comfortable in their classroom.
This is independent writing time. The students are working on their personal memoirs. What you don't see are the four students sitting in the hallway on pillows, just outside the classroom door, using speech-to-text. What you didn't hear was my "spiel", prompting and reminders, my questions and guidance. Every moment since September has been full of discussions about finding the best "learning spot" for each student within our shared space.
My flexible seating journey started three years ago. That year, I started the journey by having a desk for each student, but I provided as many flexible options within the room as possible. Because I had a small class, this was achievable, however the next year my class size grew, and my classroom did not! With a larger class, I was forced to make a decision. Either I needed to remove my flexible options or remove some desks. I chose to remove the desks. I went to having twelve desks, for twenty-eight (eventually twenty-nine) students.
In order to keep my sanity, each student in my class had a "starting spot". This allowed me to take attendance and stay sane!
This year, I switched grades, switched classrooms and jumped full force into flexible seating. I have three remaining desks as options in my classroom. Students store their supplies, duotangs and books in individual cubbies. Attendance is done with a picture sign in & a head count double check. The pictures also serve as support for supply teachers (as there is not a seating plan). I must tell you, flexible seating takes work, but it is worth it.
Here are the benefits to flexible seating I have noticed so far:
- students have built in body breaks
- they learn to self-regulate by selecting good spots to learn (some quicker than others!)
- we have more room
- we can easily transform our learning space to suit our needs in a moments notice
- I never have students ask for a seating change
- students take ownership over the shared space and it fosters a sense of community, simply put, "we share everything".
Flexible seating takes time, commitment, organization, patience and will, but I am so happy that I made the switch, for my students and for myself.
WELCOME to my blog!
Please follow along on my journey. I am an Ontario elementary school teacher who loves to learn new things! I love to share, collaborate and learn from others, so please keep in touch!