I'm in month two now of using a flexible seating arrangement in a traditional high school classroom and all of my questions have been put to rest: Flexible seating with very specified limits has caused my classroom management to improve, and not deteriorate. Assigning a home base for direct instruction, following a workshop model, and only after direct instruction allowing students to select their own seats has proven greatly beneficial. The students seem more engaged during direct instruction AND work time. The students have needed occasional reminders to use the "seats" appropriately, but overall safety and respect for the optional seating has not been an issue. The students LOVE, absolutely LOVE the ability to select their own seating and to be comfortable while working.
Here are some basic, logistical elements I have in place so that this works:
1. I have rules about the special seating arrangement and these are prominently displayed and reviewed at the beginning of the school year.
2. I do assign seat for direct instruction. Here is a generic seating chart for my classroom:
|Seating Chart for Flexible Seating|
|Explanation for Guest Teachers|
I made a standing table from a traditional classroom science table and asking the janitor to raise the legs as high as possible. I then purchased ($5.99 on Amazon) bed risers the give the table just a little extra height.
The Standing Table
|The Kneeling/Sitting Table|
|The Beanbag Corner|
|Traditional Table Seating|
|Yoga Mat "Seating"|
|Exercise Ball Seating Table|
|The "Princess" Corner|
|The "Princess" Corner|
|The Bungee and High-Back Chairs|
|Student in the Spotlight Area|
I made this special sign for the table, dividing up the classroom responsibilities by period, so that the students were taking more ownership for the classroom and responsibility for keeping it logistically operating. The sign also outlines the requirements for the week: including introducing themselves (via the Reader Profile) on Monday, creating a birthday card for any peers celebrating their birthday through the week, sharing the Words for the Wise (see below) on Tuesday, completing classroom "chores" throughout the week, and sharing Five Minutes of Friday Fun on Friday). I did want the experience to be primarily fun for students, so I also outlined some of the perks of being the "Student in the Spotlight" - including access to the special supplies and snacks on the table.
|Student in the Spotlight Perks & Responsibilities|
|Words for the Wise Bulletin|
|"Student in the Spotlight" Journal|
In an effort to make this seem a bit fun and like an honor as well, I bought fun/funky supplies and made a snack drawer that the students have access to for the week.
|"Student in the Spotlight" Snacks & Supplies|
|Cocoa & Tea Service Station|
|Drapes on the Classroom Windows|
|Live Plants & English Inspiration|