This Sounds Painful:
It can be a little bit painful at first. If you're a control freak, it can be difficult. I'm a control freak, but my desire for a comfortable workplace for me and my students overrides my urge to keep kids properly arranged in rows and columns.
When parents come in for Back to School night or Open House, the first thing they want to do is see where their kid sits. So I get to explain Flexible Seating: Your child can choose to sit in the place most suitable for the task at hand. For some kids, it's laying down on the rug. For others, it's reclined on the couch. Others like to sit at a high table…or a low table…or at a standard table cluster. Some will sit at a table so I can work with them in small groups. I will cover individual conferencing in another post.
What are the rules?
- Choose a working spot that allows you to do your best.
- Use seats appropriately. (i.e. don't abuse the furniture)
- Take care of the community supplies. (take care of the stuff in that area)
- If a spot isn't working for you, move so you can be successful. (self-monitoring)
- I have the right to move anyone at any time. (They understand they're not in trouble, but that they need to be more productive)
How Does This Help Me?
Aside from having happier kids, it really does reduce the stress level in the room. Not only due to the seating arrangement, but the general ambiance as well.
It also relaxes my conferencing with students. I can circulate around the room and then grab some floorspace, kneel, or something to sit on and meet with the student in their space. Again, watch for an upcoming post on conferencing for how this works.
But What About Testing or Projects?
It might look like there's not enough table space and chairs for everybody to sit for a test, but I have 17 chairs, 4 low stools, 4 high stools, and one bench. That's 25+ spots, which is exactly how many students I have. Remember, this is Flexible, so when I have visiting students or a new student, I have an additional low table I can move to a couch or the bench.
What's the Feedback?
Once students and parents understand how Flexible Seating works, they're supportive. After they experience this format, they never want to go back to the "cemetery" layout.