Hello! I’m Kelli from the Tenacious Teacher and I’m thrilled to be sharing on Not So Wimpy Teacher’s blog about my experience rolling out flexible seating!
I took the plunge (it was more like a graceful belly flop) last year and blogged about some things I realized both here and here. However, today I’m sharing some answers to the “But what about” questions that hold people back from trying it. If you are someone still on the fence, take a read to see if this can ease your mind!
But what about the desks? Do I get rid of all of them?
I originally wanted all my desks out of my room but due to furniture options in my school, I didn’t have access to the tables I wanted. However, I think I loved it even more having a mixture of table top options. Remember, flexible seating shouldn’t mean that everyone is now sitting at a table with a yoga ball… because that is not what all students prefer. It’s about having options. So I kept about 16 desks. I had one student who was on the spectrum and she was allowed to stay in that spot the whole year and even use the inside of her desk because that is what worked best for her. The other desks though stayed closed to students. Here are some perks for keeping desks:
You can use them for storage.
We have science groups, so each science group kept all their materials inside one of the desks. When it was science time, the getter would go and get the materials out of the desk and return them at the end. It didn’t take up other valuable countertops. Also, I keep copies of book club books organized in the desks, art projects, etc. There’s a lot you can do with them!
You can create different sized groups.
I had two groups of 5, one group of 4 and 1 group of 2. Some students preferred not to sit next to a lot of other people, so they preferred the spot with 2 desks. I could easily pull desks out of groups too (or my students for that matter if they wanted an “island”).
So if it were me… I’d say no, don’t get rid of all the desks. They can be a great asset and work best for some students.
But what about money? How do people afford all those “options?”
But what about all their stuff? Where do you keep it all?
Create a “homebase” system.
Use bins either on countertops, shelves, or in cupboards
But what about Meet the Teacher Night? How do I set up and inform parents?
Put student names on post-its for the night.
Have a letter explaining it to students and families.
You don’t have to get super specific, but let them know why the room looks the way it does and how it may look over the year. Once the year got rolling, I explained more in our newsletter and had students sign a contract and have their parents sign it too that went over the expectations in class we discussed.
Have a supply drop off plan.
Don’t feel the need to set out all the “goods” yet.
Honestly, I’ve really loved making the switch as it has challenged me in many ways. You have to have strong management skills, high and clear expectations for your students, and some flexibility yourself in order for it to be successful. My best advice is to listen to your gut and involve your students, as it impact their learning and experience at school and that should be your top priority.