Dear Future Teachers,
As the new year begins, many people may be looking for new ideas to explore and implement in their own lives. While I was scrolling through my Tik Tok feed one day (Yes, I am on the teacher side of Tik Tok), I came across an educator who was talking about a concept in her classroom that was new to me that I wanted to talk about this week: Flexible Seating. Some of you may have heard of flexible seating, some may have even implemented in your own classroom, which is really cool! I wanted to explore this topic in greater detail myself, so I have decided that the next few weeks will be dedicated to a mini series on flexible seating! Today's installment of my flexible seating series will focus on defining the concept and providing examples of how flexible seating can look in the classroom.
What is flexible seating?
Flexible seating, as defined by Eastern Washington University, is "the practice of allowing and providing many seating options for students." This alternative style moves away from the traditional desk and chair combination we are used to seeing in U.S. classrooms. The key idea behind flexible seating is to provide more choice for students in the classroom, with the goal of keeping students comfortable, attentive, and engaged in their learning.
Students tend to be assigned to a certain table or desk in class, but flexible seating allows students to select which space they want to utilize to focus on their current projects. Flexible seating also promotes collaboration between students as they learn to navigate the flexible seating arrangement with their peers and their teacher.
According to a study of 153 classrooms in the U.K., flexible seating creates flexibility and student ownership in the classroom, both found to be factors influencing student engagement in schools.
Image sourced from https://www.edutopia.org/article/flexible-classrooms-research-scarce-promising.
This study doesn't necessarily mean the flexible seating options themselves keep students engaged, rather the pedagogy around giving students ownership in the classroom helps increase student engagement.
Check out the Tik Tok video that inspired my interest in flexible seating, posted by Shane Saeed (@thefantasticallyfourth).
(Here's the link in case the embedded video won't play: https://www.tiktok.com/@thefantasticallyfourth/video/6828711499859528965?lang=en).
Examples of flexible seating
Flexible seating can look different from classroom to classroom. Students may be on the floor, sitting down, or even standing up depending on their choice of seating for that particular activity. Some students may even shift between seating options for different activities, depending on what works best for them.
Flexible seating options can include: yoga balls, couches, floor cushions, low tables, standing desks, bean bag chairs, wobble chairs, tray tables and more! This alternative seating method doesn't mean you have to abandon the traditional desks and tables completely! Those options should still be available in your classroom space as some students may work better in the traditional workspace.
Shane Saeed has also posted videos of her flexible classroom that I've included as visuals below!
(Links to the individual videos: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).
There is so much to learn about flexible seating, so I hope that I've sparked some interest in the topic! As interesting as it may sound, flexible seating can't be implemented without careful consideration and planning on the part of the educator. Next week, we will explore the experiences of different teachers in implementing flexible seating, as well as identify a do/don't list and tips on how to take the step towards creating a more flexible classroom space. If you have experienced a flexible classroom as a student, or created one as a teacher, please reach out to me via my Contact Form on my Home Page or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.