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May 16, 2016

Flexible Seating in the Classroom

First of all, I know what you are thinking. How am I ever going to do this with my students? I truly believe we should do what is best for our students, and I am sure you do too.  Not all students are going to do well with a desk and a chair (traditional seating). I taught for seven years in a third grade classroom. My first year was hard. Wait, that is an understatement...it was the hardest year of teaching and I wanted to throw in the towel after one year. Yes, one year! I had to evaluate what I was doing and the reason I became a teacher. The reason was pretty simple actually, to give my students the best education possible. If this meant I had to change how I taught, how I set up my classroom, my classroom management, I was going to do it!

I started with choosing a theme. The first year I chose a tropic theme and went all out. I had a tiki Hut, palm trees, benches, and bean bags. I wanted to make my classroom a fun and inviting place to learn. It was absolutely amazing the difference in the mood and energy of my students. It was a game changer for my classroom. Here is a picture of my tiki-hut. My students LOVED it! A camping theme came shortly after that seemed to take over my classroom even more than my tropical theme.

Classroom management is a large component in flexible seating. It is so important to have your classroom management plan in place before you try any changes in your classroom set-up. Having a classroom behavior clip-chart helped my students. All classrooms and teachers are different and a behavior clip-chart may not be what works for you. You have to discover what will work for your students. This might change year to year. My students always knew that I could move them if they were not engaged in what they were working on. Expectations need to be set at the beginning of the year just like you would with traditional seating. 

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have flexible seating. I absolutely love DonorsChoose. I had multiple donations including bean bags, chair back buddies, math supplies, and a reading rug. I found kid's chairs at garage sales and stools that other teachers did not want. Just use what you have or items you find and it will all come together. Parents are another great source of donations. Send a letter home telling them what you are doing and ask if they are willing to donate. Most of the time they are more than willing to donate. 

Get rid of your student desks and replace with tables. This may be the hardest part for some teachers. This was the most exciting part for me. I asked my custodian if I could have tables and he was more than willing to find them for me. I taught in a large school corporation so we did have tables available. He removed all of my desks expect for two. I kept two desks for the students that needed a bit more structure and the traditional seating. Place a few organizational caddies on the middle of the tables and you are all set! 

You are going to love it! It will take time to get used to and you will need a plan before your students come in on the first day. It is something that takes time and patience. Make sure you have a place for everything. Chair back buddies were a must for me; however, I have seen teachers have storage cabinets for student supplies. Find what works for you and your classroom. Have fun with it and enjoy. It is amazing how much your students will grow throughout the year as independent learners. 


  1. Love your info on getting donations! Many times parents have stuff they're ridding of! Good tips!!!:-)

  2. Thank you Jacqueline! Yes, it is amazing what parents have to donate if we just ask. :)

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