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Many classrooms use flexible seating to engage students

Many classrooms use flexible seating to engage students

L'Ouverture flexible seating Instead of rows of desks, many teachers across the district are implementing different seating arrangements in their classrooms. Standing desks, chairs with exercise balls or rocking seats, couches, and flexible bands under desks for foot rests are just a few ways teachers are using flexible seating. Flexible seating has been in place in some classrooms for the past few years, but more classrooms are implementing the different look this year.

“It has really helps with student engagement with their work,” said Brittany Horning, second-grade teacher at L’Ouverture. “There is a lot of research that states that if students are comfortable and happy where they’re sitting, they do better in class.”

“At first, some of my students were skeptical, but now they are excited to see where they sit each day,” Horning said.

“They’re focused and more engaged with what is going on in the classroom,” said Candice Ulbrich, fifth-grade teacher at L’Ouverture.

“They aren’t getting up and walking around the room when they should be working.

They aren’t talking to one another. It’s amazing the difference it has made,” Ubrich said.

L’Ouverture is looking at having flexible seating in all of their classrooms by the end of the school year.

And the students really like it. As L’Ouverture fifth-grade student Felicia Lira stated, “This is the coolest classroom ever.”

McLean flexible seating At McLean, three teachers have flexible seating in their classrooms this year. Melissa Weigant, second-grade teacher, said she tried some options last year for a few of her students who fidgeted in their seats. She said the other students wanted to try them as well, so she did research over the summer and decided to change her classroom.

“I can have a student whose feet are going 90 miles an hour using bike pedals under the desk, but the student is also writing 90 miles an hour,” she said. “Before, they didn’t know what to do with that extra energy and could be disruptive. Now with this seating arrangement, they naturally spread out and do their work.”

Weigant notes that many elementary classrooms have had areas with bean bag chairs or loveseats for silent reading or small group activities for years. The flexible seating takes that concept classroom-wide.

Flexible seating is not just for elementary schools. Some secondary school teachers are using flexible seating as well.

“I have a lot of refugee students and they’re not used to being in a school setting all day long,” said Jessica Mow, Newcomer teacher at Curtis Middle School. “Allowing them to bounce on an exercise ball, sit on the floor or stand up has made a difference with their engagement.”

“The students stay in one spot. There is less time fiddling in their seats or getting up and walking over to a friend’s desk.”

Curtis flexible seating Mow said there are a few classrooms at Curtis that are using flexible seating, or using parts of it to see how it fits in their classroom. 

All three schools said parent reaction has been very positive.

“We’ve had parents who have children in other classrooms ask if we’re going to take this school-wide,” said Weigant.

“I had parents say they wished they had seating like this when they were in school,” said Mow.