As a new school year approaches I am preparing for new challenges and new adventures. This will be by first year teaching 2nd grade, so there is a lot for me to learn before my students come through the door for the first day of school. This summer, besides pouring over curriculum to familiarize myself with the differences between 3rd grade and 2nd grade skills, I am also preparing my classroom space as well.
Deciding on classroom layout is one of my favorite things to work on over the summer. It is a time when all things are possible and all furniture is ready for rearranging. In previous years I have incorporated lots of choice when it comes to where students work independently. At desks, on the rug, on mats around the room; it has been my mission to let students work where they are most comfortable and where they can be most productive. Little did I know this theory of seating had a name, flexible seating.
This past spring and summer I read several articles and countless blogs that talked about flexible seating in classrooms. Benefits teachers identify like a decrees in distracting behaviors and increased student attention during lessons is possible by putting the power of seating choice in the hands of students.
Some teachers talk about getting rid of all the desks in their classroom to make way for couches, tables and chairs, bean bags, and countless other forms of seating. Now I don’t know how I feel about completely abandoning desks. I mean 2nd grade at our school is the first year students get their own desk and it is a BIG DEAL! As a new teacher to the grade level, I’m not looking to crush 7 and 8 year old dreams by depriving them of their very own desk. I also think there is a lot to be said about having a home base to practice organization not to mention having a space that is all your own. However, I am totally on board for having LOTS of options to work around the classroom.
This year in addition to some of the flexible seating options I have used in the past, I am adding a few new things to kick it up a notch. It took a little sacrifice (bye bye teacher desk!) and some rearranging to condense the amount of furniture in my room. By cutting down on clutter, I was able to open up more space for more seating and working areas around the room.
So what kind of flexible seating can you find in my classroom this year? Here is a peek at what my room will offer students:
1.Marimekko for Target Teepee- This is probably one of my favorite additions to this years learning space lineup. Back in the spring this gem was on major sale and I scooped it up before I could figure out how I was going to use it. Needless to say I think it will be a big hit with students.
2. Marimekko Fatboy Beanbag- I have had this beanbag for a long time and with a little patching and some TLC it is ready to go for another school year. There is nothing better than some bright colored poppies to brighten up a class.
3. Beanbag chairs- These beanbag chairs were generously donated to me last year by a parent who had heard about all the different kind of seating I offer students. Have I mentioned how awesome the parents are in my district?! They were a big hit with students last year and I know they will be a big seller again this year.
4. Round mats- These have been a classroom staple in my room since I started teaching 6 years ago. Long before I read about flexible seating, I always had mats available to students to sit on if they were working around the room.
5. Small tables- Last year I had one small table for students to work at that I picked up at IKEA. It was just the right size for a pair of students to sit and work together on a variety of activities. I was a bit skeptical at how the table would hold up since it is so lightweight, but it worked like a champ and now I have gone out to get a second one. Can’t wait to see them in action!
6. Lowered table- I took one of the tables already in the classroom and decided to lower it so it can be a seated working area. I know that kids like to work at all different levels so why not grab a mat and get comfy on the floor?
7. Lap trays- IKEA to the rescue again on this one. With so many different places to work around the room, there may be a time when students need a hard surface to work on. All students will have access to clipboards but I wanted to give them the option of a portable desk as well. My guess is these will be a favorite around the room.
Sounds like a lot of options right?! Well, I have big plans for this school year and these are just some of the options I want to offer students. I am currently in the process of trying to acquire a few more different kinds of seats through a DonorsChoose.org project. Hopefully, by November I will raise enough funds to purchase 6 Kids Kore Wobble Chairs and 4 Go Anywhere Teacher Chairs. By adding these two more seating features to my room I will provide even more choice to students who learn best sitting in different styles.
Everyday I challenge my students to work hard, give 100%, collaborate, and think outside the box to solve problems. It seems to me that the seating in my room should reflect that same forward thinking approach to learning.
So here is to another great school year, where learning has endless opportunities!