(Posted Aug. 15, 2018)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Traditional classroom desks and chairs are making way for bean bag chairs, wobble stools and crate seating in Norwood Elementary’s second-grade classrooms in West Jefferson.
Teacher Jill Lambert recently sent a letter to parents describing the “flexible seating” concept, which addresses different learning styles and empowers students to decide which seating best meets their needs.
“A classroom with flexible seating looks different from a regular classroom that uses only desks and chairs,” wrote Lambert, who said the goal of flexible seating is to give students options in determining their own best learning spot.
“There are many different options for seating, but you will notice that all options still allow for workspace for students. There will still be individual desks available for any student that shows me they need a bit more structure or if they choose to sit at a desk.”
In addition to the bean bag chairs, wobble stools and crates, choices include carpet, lower tables, bungee chairs and tall standing desks. According to Lambert, students will have their own cubbies to store materials such as notebooks, binders and writing supplies.
“At the beginning of the year, I will invite students to join with me to create a list of guidelines, rules for using the different seating options,” Lambert said. “I will spend time teaching them what it should look like when they’re using the different seats and how to best take care of them.”
Students will have the opportunity to try out different options and determine where the seating works best in the classroom.
“I have seen and read about the benefits of implementing flexible seating,” said Lambert. “It can empower our kids, increase student engagement and help prepare students for the real world.
“A lot of necessary changes in the room were removing a lot of desks from the classroom, deciding what seating to start with and what to do if the seating doesn’t work out, making anchor charts to have expectations in the different seat, holding discussions with colleagues on how to introduce and implement the seating, and getting the custodial staff to be open to the different things in the room,” she said.
Principal Sue Barte said the school decided to implement the seating due to concerns that children need options to move around more and not be stationery in a chair and desk for all of their classroom time.
“We have always had movement but this will allow a variety of seating that fits the needs of the students,” Barte said. “We will monitor the usage of flexible seating this year, and if we receive positive input then our goal is to expand to other grade levels.”