Have you seen the new flexible seating at Shalom?
Flexible seating is spreading across our elementary classrooms as it allows students to take more responsibility in their learning, engage better in classroom activities, and avoid unrelated distractions. “Flexible seating gives students a choice in what type of seating works best for them and their learning,” Elementary Principal Jamie Keller said. “In some flexible seating classrooms, this choice may be as simple as using a table rather than a desk. In others, the choices may include yoga balls, floor cushions, bucket seats, standing tables, wobble stools or traditional desks and chairs.”
Flexible seating was introduced when elementary staff recognized some important benefits students could gain from being able to choose their own environments. “When students are given choices in their learning, they have ownership of it,” Mrs. Keller said. “Flexible seating arrangements can lead to better health for our students. When they bounce, wobble, stand or lean, the blood flow to their brain is increased and their core is strengthened. All of this can lead to increased metabolism, focus, alertness, and calorie burning.”
Research by Herman Miller echoes the benefits and opportunities with a flexible seating environment – “giving people some control over their surroundings adds to their sense of well-being.” This is the result Kindergarten Teacher Macayla Martin sees in her class. “They know that when they choose their spot in the room, they are choosing a spot to help them be their best kindergarten learner,” she said.
The students agree – one from Mrs. Martin’s class saying, “I love the ball seats because they are so soft and I don’t have to learn on something that is hard.” Another points out that flexible seating can help with the desire to fidget in class – “I like the ball seats because bouncing helps me learn.” Even the simple benefit of a varying learning environment is something students appreciate. “I love flexible seating because we get to choose new seats every week,” said one student.
Mrs. Martin said she finds the new seating arrangement gives students a refreshed perspective on their learning and a new motivation. “The students have the drive to complete their work and do their best… They are all learning in their optimal environment.”She set the expectations for the new arrangement at the beginning of the year and has seen improvement in behavior and focus in her students. Other teachers, like First Grade Teacher Mrs. Alyssa Oliphant, have also seen a positive response from parents, some even offering to provide more seating options for students.
The best part is that the students are thoroughly enjoying the new options and adjusting well. It only took about a day for students to explore the options and start deciding on the best environment for themselves. “Some students will gravitate toward the same spot each time we begin a new activity while others need a change of scenery to help keep them focused,” Mrs. Martin said.
The results of the flexible seating are promising, but the way this type of seating plays out will look different in each classroom. “Just like our students, each teacher is an individual,” Mrs. Keller said. Some flexible seating classrooms will involve just one or two other seating options. Some teachers, like Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Vickie Cordell have used their own craft skills to create seating options. Mrs. Keller is hopeful that “each teacher will dive into flexible seating as they are comfortable, with the idea that each classroom in the elementary will offer some sort of flexible seating.”
Thank you to the Record Herald for sharing about flexible seating at Shalom! http://www.therecordherald.com/news/20181204/softer-side-of-seating-helps-shalom-students