School is officially back in session! Families are excited to get back into a routine (okay, maybe not the kids) and teachers are excited for a fresh start to a new year. Teachers have spent the last weeks of summer break gathering lesson plans and setting up their classrooms. For most educators, that means creating new spaces for students to not only relax and collaborate but also to focus.
Classrooms have transformed from rows of stationary desks to flexible seating arrangements. Wobbly stools, bean bags, community tables, and other informal seating arrangements are a must for growing minds and bodies to adequately process information and move throughout the day. Flexible classroom settings teach children to share their spaces and supplies making a flexible classroom less territorial than a traditional environment. Collaboration is embedded in the classroom experience and flexible seating allows for more effective collaboration.
Students now feel more empowered in the classroom by having choice and control over where they sit to get their best schoolwork done for the day. With choice and control come rules and guidelines for students to follow, creating a fair and orderly classroom. It is critical for teachers to set the expectations and guidelines to help cultivate communication and problem-solving skills utilized throughout life.
“People don’t destroy that which they help build”
Consider allowing students to be involved in the creation of classroom guidelines. i.e. students can weigh in on the length of time allowed for use of bean bag chairs.
However, don’t throw out the idea of desks and chairs just yet! Children still need a space to focus during individual work times and testing. A bean bag chair or community table may not work for most during those focus times. Our workplace research would never recommend an “all or nothing” approach. The key to a productive environment is creating an ecosystem of spaces. You need both collaborative and focus spaces for a productive, flexible classroom.
Want the best of both worlds? Consider tables and chairs on casters. Students can easily move their desks into a community table for collaboration or separate to focus on test day. The classroom could change by class period or by classroom activity with ease. No more teachers having to schlep furniture around afterhours for their next day’s lesson plan.