I love the idea of flexible seating in the classroom. I have seen many pictures floating around the internet of INSANELY awesome teachers who have taken the leap into this new teaching style and I am in awe of their ability to try it out in their classrooms. As I was researching the idea and weighing the pros and cons of having a flexible classroom, it became alarmingly clear that flexible seating would not work for me… and I was actually okay with that realization. Let me explain why.
While being bombarded with the latest trend in education and seeing flexible classrooms being praised in mainstream and social media, I just couldn’t wrap my head and my heart around implementing the idea in my own classroom. From what I was seeing, yoga balls, couches, wiggle chairs, bistro tables, etc were changing the learning experience for students around the world and I was like… ummm… okay? What was wrong with me? Why was I not falling in love with the idea of changing up the seating options in my classroom like millions of other teachers around the world? How come I could not foresee the benefits of flexible seating like so many teachers, professionals, parents, and administrators have seen? I thought long and hard and came up with these 3 reasons why flexible seating is not for me. Perhaps you will see that it is not for you, either.
#1. Flexible seating takes a lot of time to implement correctly and effectively.
In order to effectively and safely use flexible seating, teachers must take an INCREDIBLE amount of time to set up, model, and reinforce the proper usage of the seats – and all that must take place from the very first day of using it. For myself, I am so occupied trying to get students to correctly and effectively implement the classroom rules, routines, and expectations that I have no more time or energy to devote to the proper use of different seating options. If you aren’t willing to devote a significant amount of your classroom management time to teaching your students how to use the equipment properly, than flexible seating might not be the right fit for you.
And that’s okay! My students and I manage just fine with our regular desks and chairs – and I am sure that yours do, too!
#2. My personality type and teaching style does not accommodate for flexible seating.
I am a very structured teacher. That’s just how I am. I teach best and my students learn best from me when they are working at their own personal work stations (i.e. their desks). My lessons revolve around their exploration of concepts, independent practice, and structured group work. That’s not to say that I don’t allow my students to work on the floor, work standing up, walk around the room when they need to get the ants out of their pants, etc. but flexible seating options such as bouncy balls and scoop chairs tend to disturb me more than anything else! My personality likes structure and order and seeing a child bouncing on a yoga ball in my peripheral vision while I am instructing makes me lose MY focus.
Kids need to move… I get it! But students also need to learn that there are times when sitting down at a desk and chair is appropriate. If a child comes into my classroom and clearly is having an off day, I might suggest a yoga ball to help him/ her get the energy out. If an occupational therapist or a psychologist were to recommend the use of flexible seating options for a specific student, I would comply 100%. But until then, my desks and chairs will stay put!
#3. Flexible Seating is Expensive!
Let’s face it, much of the decor, supplies, and resources that are used in a teacher’s classroom is paid out of pocket by the teacher him/herself. Looking around Pinterest and teacher blogs, you can bet that MOST of the flexible seating you see has been bought and paid for by the teachers themselves. Yes, there are some that have been generously funded by great organizations like Donor’s Choose in the US or My Class Needs in Canada, but let’s be honest… quite a few flexible classrooms have been filled with garage sale finds, Kijiji bargains, flea markets hauls, IKEA hacks, and, unfortunately, a lot of VISA charges on behalf of the flexible seating teacher.
Changing up the seating of my classroom would mean that my finances would take a significant hit – and let’s face it, I do not have the time nor the energy to hunt for flexible seating items. I’d much rather spend that time planning engaging lessons, gathering the materials I need to make those lessons engaging, and spending what little extra money I have on the items that I need. If my school board cannot afford to put that kind of seating in my classroom, does it make sense that I would have that kind of money in my personal budget to do the same?
Kudos to you teachers who have been able to incorporate flexible seating into your classrooms and are rockin’ it! I would love to be in your shoes! But at the same time, I am not banging my head over the fact that my class isn’t on the cutting edge of the latest educational trend. My students are learning… and excelling… and smiling… and are happy. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Have a great day!