A Review of Flexible Seating

At first, I had many questions about flexible seating. How would I manage a classroom if they could choose where they wanted to sit? How would I afford to buy new furniture for my classroom? Would my high school students enjoy it? More and more high school teachers are trying flexible seating, and from my first year using it, I can say with confidence that it is student and teacher approved!

Where did I start?

I began with wiggle cushions. I received a class set of them through a grant. From there, I started thinking about changing up my classroom theme into more of a Starbucks cafe feel. Typically, no more than 5 students per class use a wiggle cushion, so if you're considering them, I would get a few to try out. I ended up giving a few teachers some for their rooms. You can find these on Amazon! 

For the 2017-2017 school year, I wanted my classroom to feel like a bookstore cafe, complete with some flexible seating options, lots of books, and a calm atmosphere. I started hunting around for cafe tables, and I ended up finding them in my own school building! I am borrowing them from another room. Four students could sit comfortably at each table, but I tried to keep it at a maximum of three. If we had our textbooks or Chromebooks out, it seemed a bit cluttered.

What seating options did I offer?

I borrowed these wooden stools from my colleague, and I put them along my back shelves. I covered the shelves with black fabric and Velcro so that it seemed more like a counter. This option went over well with my students.

I also had a table with just one-two chairs at it for students who preferred to work in a non-table setting. I added this dry-erase board to the table. Other than the occasional doodling, my kids utilized this table well. For next year, I'll be placing two wooden chairs under it with no dry-erase. I like dry-erase products, but when the kids pick at the dry-erase sticker, it drives me crazy lol.

This table was a Facebook Marketplace FREE find! I gave it a new coat of spray paint and put two stools from Walmart under it. I told Walmart that I wanted to try flexible seating, and they kindly donated a $40 gift card. Each stool was around $11, and they have held up ALL year. Each stool has a small puncture in them now, but for $11, I highly recommend them.

Halfway through the year, I reached out to Home Depot to see if they would consider donating some wood. With that wood, our woodshop students built me a counter that runs along my entire window wall. It is a HIT with my students. Every single day, there are multiple students sitting there. They can open the windows and choose what seats they want. They are 34 inches tall with a 15-inch depth.

At my other counter, I followed the same method for what I did before: black fabric and Velcro. These stools were being thrown out at a local restaurant, so I took them home, gave them some TLC and wood glue, and they were good as new!

What did I learn?

Flexible seating is amazing. It gave me so much joy to see the kids pick where they wanted to learn. Any time that I brought in a new piece of furniture, it was guaranteed that a student would sit at it and use it. I will absolutely use flexible seating again.

I also learned that routines and procedures are KEY. I somewhat went into it thinking that I would wing it. I did not have anything outlined in my syllabus, and I did not particularly spend too much time reviewing my expectations. That is something that I will absolutely be changing for next year. Towards the end of the school year, my kids were so comfortable in their seats and with their friends that sometimes they were a bit distracted. Next year, I plan on having and practicing routines and procedures more. More information on this will be in a back-to-school blog post!

What are my plans for next year?

I will be switching to a Harry Potter themed classroom next year, and as a result, my seating will change. It is my goal to switch from the blue classroom chairs to wooden chairs.

I am finding free ones on Marktetplace, and my local Goodwill offers 30% off to teachers. I bought two of the above chairs for just $3 each.

I found these little tables for free after a college move-out. I plan on painting them a darker brown to complement my new theme.

I found the middle wooden chair for free as well as the lamps.

This chair was in the teacher's lounge! I love it because it has a Harry Potter vibe to me!

What's my overall advice?

1) If you are considering making the move to flexible seating, do it. 
2) Hunt for the good deals so that you do not break your bank account. 
3) Enlist the help of other people and ask them for free stuff. Seriously. it works.
4) Create procedures and expectations and REVIEW them extensively.
5) If something gets broken, or if you have a bad day, do not assume that flexible seating is not for you. Keep it up!

<3 Staci


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