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Does Flexible Seating Benefit Students AND Teachers?

Flexible seating is becoming popular in many classrooms across the United States. This concept allows students to choose their seating arrangement in the school, and that may not be the traditional desk and chair setup. While it's certainly outside the box, this arrangement encourages movement and collaboration, providing students with a comfortable and personalized learning environment.

But how does this type of seating arrangement benefit both students and teachers? Here we will discuss the benefits of flexible seating for teachers and students.

Benefits of Flexible Seating for Teachers

  1. Engagement: When students can choose a seating arrangement that works best for them, it's easier for them to listen to the lesson and participate.
  2. Classroom Management: Students who choose their seating are more likely to be on task and less likely to cause disruptions.
  3. Productivity and Collaboration: With the ability to move around, students can work on their assignments more efficiently. They can work in groups and get support from other students. 
  4. Behavior: When students value their seating, you can use behavior as a motivator to keep this opportunity. If they abuse it, they lose it. 
  5. Student-Teacher Relationships: Allowing students to choose their seating helps them feel comfortable and valued in the classroom.
  6. Motivation and Creativity: Having a say in the learning process with fun seating options keeps kids motivated to stay on task. Students can think more freely and develop new ideas.
  7. Achievement: With the ability to move around and collaborate, students are more likely to retain information and feel more confident in their work.

Benefits of Flexible Seating for Students

  1. Comfort. As they choose a seating arrangement that works best for them, students are more likely to be comfortable and relaxed in the classroom.
  2. Focus: It's easier to pay attention when you feel comfortable and in control of your space. 
  3. Peer Support: Flexible seating makes group work and peer feedback easier. And choosing where you sit will help students feel less alone. 
  4. Teacher Connection. Students who participate in seating are more likely to feel comfortable talking to their teachers and asking questions.
  5. Creativity: Flexible is fun! Let your kids express themselves through their seating. 
  6. Physical Health: Try allowing seating arrangements that encourage physical activity, so students can move around and get exercise.
  7. Mental Health: From connection to a sense of belonging, all of these benefits will strengthen student mental health. 
  8. Ownership: Students need to feel like they have a voice in the classroom. This is one way to help them feel a safe sense of control. 

The Verdict on Flexible Seating

Don't shy away from flexible seating! It can make a big difference for both students and teachers. Create a more comfortable and engaging learning environment, allowing students to move around and learn differently.

You can enjoy more freedom to move around the classroom, lead discussions and activities, and foster student collaboration. Try this form of seating and monitor the engagement of students compared to their previous seating.

Are there barriers to flexible seating in classrooms?

Yes, there are some barriers to implementing flexible seating in classrooms. These could include limited space, cost, and difficulty maintaining classroom order. Of course, there is always the chance that students will abuse the opportunity. But if you make that clear up front, they'll know what consequences to expect. 

Additionally, some teachers may need help adjusting their teaching style to accommodate flexible seating or may refuse to give up control of the classroom environment. But just because there are hurdles doesn't mean this can't be a positive change overall. 

Making the Switch to Flexible Seating

If you're making the dive into this new seating arrangement, have fun with it! Students don't necessarily have to supply their own seating, but you can allow them to choose from available options. Here are a few ideas to inspire you as you get started. 

  • Plan seating based around a theme - There are lots of fun themes that can mean creative seating. Try a Candy Land Theme with bean bags that look like jelly beans!
  • Use thrift store finds - Stores like Goodwill often have comfy seating for much cheaper. Snag a cozy sofa or some armchairs for students to enjoy!
  • Encourage community donations - Reach out to parents and grandparents in your community and see what unique options you can use to spice up your space. 

You can make the classroom look more inviting and attractive, motivating students and inspiring them to learn.

Written by Roselyn Kati
Education World Contributor
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