Greenleaf Elementary School's teacher Apryl Ott is giving her students some choices when it comes to seating. After reading a lot of articles about flexible seating, the first grade teacher decided to transform her classroom. "As adults we like to work where we are most comfortable, so I thought that children would work better if they could work where they are comfortable," said Ott. When students returned from spring break, their teacher explained the rules and guidelines before students got to explore the seating options. "That afternoon, on the first day we tried it out, we discussed what went well and what we needed to work on," said Ott.
The transformed classroom offers four different table options: a standing table, a regular table with chairs, a table lowered to the ground with cushions, and a table with four exercise balls. Students can also lie down anywhere on the floor with a yoga mat. There are two kid-sized camping chairs, three scoop rockers, and a big comfy chair with a stool, that students are allowed to use if the teacher isn't using it.
"The students have adapted really well. They love having the option to choose different seats throughout the day," said Ott. "I feel like they are more engaged in their work and spend less time chatting than when they were sitting at traditional tables and chairs." When asked if there were any challenges about the new seating options, Ott replied, "Students know that if they are not working in the spot they chose, that I have the right to move them to a different area. I have only had to move one or two students to different locations. They know once a table is filled they must choose a different spot." Ott plans to add more spots for seating soon, such as wobble stools, bean bags, and tire seats.
Ott is not the only one offering flexible seating. Fellow first grade teacher Laressia Martin offered flexible seating last year, but it didn't work for that group; however, this year, the first graders are really responding to it. "My students are more focused and are loving it," said Martin. "The kids also did a writing assignment and their responses said they can concentrate better!"