Ashley Melvin, 5th grade teacher at John Glenn Elementary School, is trying a new teaching technique in her classroom this year: flexible seating. Flexible seating is a new style of seating in which kids are given a free reign on their own learning by choosing where they sit and what they sit in. Instead of just the traditional desk and chair, students can choose to sit in the padded crate seats at the small group table, stools at a taller table, a futon, comfortable butterfly chairs, on lounging pillows that can move about the classroom, or on the carpeted rug. In the future, Mrs. Melvin is wanting to have yoga balls purchased or donated for another seating option for students as well.
The students were given a “trial period” in the first week of class and they were told that they could not sit in the same spot every day. This allows them to explore the seating options to determine where they learn best. Mrs. Melvin has also expressed that even though a child sits in one spot when they first get to school, if they feel that they are not learning their best or doing their best work in that spot, they may get up and move to another place in the room.
As for instruction during class, Mrs. Melvin believes that this seating style will benefit her students because most of the “group instruction” will be broken down into smaller groups based on where the students are sitting. This allows her to focus on fewer students at once, giving them more instruction and direction if it is needed. It also allows her students to work at their own pace and create their own learning.
This year, numerous teachers are testing out the flexible seating technique and have expressed that this will be a learn-as-you-go year but that they are excited to see how well their students work together. We look forward to checking in on these teachers in the coming months and watching their students learn and grow!