Flexible Seating in the Primary Classroom Questions & Answers

Hey everyone! It is that time of the year when us teachers are beginning to think about our plans for the upcoming school year. And possibly implementing flexible seating may be something you are contemplating. If so, I hope that this post helps to answer some of your questions on the topic. While you are reading these please remember there is no wrong or right way to do flexible seating, it is truly about what works for you, your students, and your classroom. If you have any additional questions I would be happy to answer them. Just leave a comment at the end of the post and I'll get back to you!  

Q: How do you organize student supplies, folders, and large textbooks? 
A: There are many different options to store student supplies while using flexible seating. It truly depends on what works for you in your classroom. Here are some ideas: 
Community Supplies 
Community supplies is the route that I have gone since before I implemented flexible seating. I have found with community supplies it truly eliminates the bickering of whose supplies are whose and helps to create a sense of community within the classroom.   
To organize the community supplies I have a caddy at each table work station with pencils, scissors, glue, crayons, and erasers. I also have a couple of individual pencil boxes in a designated area for when students choose to work around the room.  

Student Notebooks, Folders, and Textbooks
Option 1: If you are lucky enough to have cubbies in your classroom using those to store student supplies is a great option! Check out MissMurphy816 instagram to see how she uses her cubbies to store her student's supplies and uses team supplies rather than community supplies.
Option 2: If you do not have cubbies in your classroom don't fret, there are other ways you can store student supplies. One option is 3 Drawer Plastic Towers. You can label each drawer with a student's name and allow them to keep their materials in their designated drawer. If you do choose to use these drawers I would suggest spreading them out to ensure there ins't a "traffic jam!" Or you can use book boxes like the ones in Mrs. Murphy's IG post and store them in a designated area.
Option 3: Zip tying crates together is another great idea. This idea came from Clutter-Free Classroom. She created cubbies for her students. You could even use these crates to hold large textbooks. You could break your class into teams and have 1 or 2 crates per team for their notebooks/textbooks. This would allow you to save some money since you wouldn't necessarily need one crate per student.
Zip tie crates to make shelving.  Hmmm... creative-ideas-from-moms

Q: If students don't have folders in their "desks" what do you do with student papers like unfinished work, homework, and other take home papers?
A: When using flexible seating students can still have folders you just need to find a place to store them. Some options were mentioned above, for example, book boxes and plastic drawers. Other options include using magazine file holders or even milk crates. Milk crates can also be a great way to keep your student's papers or folders organized. Inside the crate you can create a filing system using hanging dividers. Each student would be designated one divider where they can place their folders. You could even create a similar system by having a designated crate for unfinished work, take home papers, etc...   
Pacon Creative Products Classroom Keepers Magazine File Folder Today, I want to share with you some of the tips and tricks to use interactive notebooks in your classroom. I learn something new every year, so I'm going to impart that knowledge to you.  I've got te

Q: I am not allowed to remove all of my students' desks/tables from the classroom. 
How would flexible seating still work for me?
A: I was actually in the same situation when I began using flexible seating. I quickly realized it was okay to still have tables and desks.It was all about finding ways to utilize them.I found that adding different seating options to the desks/tables such as stools, yoga balls, stability discs, and wobble stools if a great idea. You can also add bed risers to a table to make it high enough for your students to use it as a standing table. Taking the legs off of a table allows you to create a floor table where students can sit on the floor and work. You may also be surprised to find that some students may like the idea of a traditional chair every so often so don't be too quick to get rid of your chairs. I also got creative and worked to find hiding places in my classroom for the left over desks and chairs.

Q: I can't use donor's choose, where can I find assistance in purchasing flexible seating? I have spent too much on my classroom already.
A: When you first think about it flexible seating sounds really expensive but it doesn't have to be. There are many affordable ways to bring flexible seating into your classroom. Also, keep in mind that you do not need to get everything all at once. Getting things gradually is a great way to keep it light on your wallet. Be sure to check out sites like OfferUp, LetGo, as well as garage sales for awesome deals.
Free Ideas
* Remove the legs from a table in your classroom to create a floor table. 
This option will allow your students to sit on the floor and work. 
Raise the legs on a table in your classroom to create a standing table.
Inexpensive Flexible Seating Ideas
Tj Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, & Hobby Lobby are all great places to find pillows for a great price. 
Yoga Mats/Yoga Balls
If you have a Five Below store near you you can find yoga mats and yoga balls for $5. You may also be able to find them for a steal at TjMaxx or a similar store.  
Scoop Rockers 
Scoop rockers can be found at Big Lots & Aldi for about $6.00. If you do not have either store you can also find them on Wayfair, Overstock, and Walmart. I do believe when you order them online they come in a pack of 4 or more. I could be wrong tho. :) 
Lap Desks
Lap Desks are perfect for allowing students to work around the room. They provide a hard surface that makes writing easier. They can be found at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joanns, Walmart and other stores. If you purchase these at Michaes or Hobby Lobby don't forget to use those awesome 40% off store coupons.
End Tables
End Tables can be found at Walmart, Target, and Ikea for around $5-$10

Q: How do you respond to parents and OTHER TEACHERS that push back at this "ridiculous" idea? Parent comment: "They need to learn to sit and listen properly." 
A: I would explain that the expectation of listening and learning in the classroom is the same and the seating will actually help to improve their student's abilitiy to listen and learn.
- I personally did not have any backlash from any of the parents this year. During meet the teacher I gave my parents a Q&A about flexible seating and I  found that my parents LOVED the idea of Flexible Seating. 

Q: Teacher comment: "You are going to make my job next year so much harder. 
They will be so out of control. You are treating them like babies."
A: Honestly, you have to do what is best for your kids, right now! I know this is something new to some teachers and it may be hard for them to understand, but once they see it in action their perception may change. I would simply explain that you are differentiating your classroom to fit the needs of your students and explain the benefits of using flexible seating. You may see later down the road it becomes a trend in your school.

Q: What do the first few days of the year look like (where/how do they sit on the very first morning and what do you do as far as teaching flexible seating procedures)?
A: On the first day of school I have a page of morning work set out at the different spots around the room. I allow students to sit and work where ever they choose until I can get them all to the carpet and be in front of them. Once I have them on the carpet we talk about how our classroom may look different than some other classroom they've been in. I then talk about how in this class they may work wherever they'd like. However, if they are not making smart choices I get to pick where they have to work. I then go over the seating expectations. I actually created expectation posters and introductory materials to help make this easier. They are found in my TPT store. After talking about expectations we spend time going over the different seating options in our class. As I show each seating choice I model how to sit on it correctly and then I model how NOT to sit on it. We as a class chart the expectations for each seat.  

After day one, I assign students a spot each day for the entire first week. By assigning them a specific spot that week it allows them the opportunity to experience each seating type and see what works best for them. In the morning they would come in and meet on the carpet. We would review the expectations for each seat like we did on day one and I would call groups to then "check in" to their spot. During the first week students were not able to move spots unless there was an issue. We repeated this routine for the first week and by week 2 I began allowing students to "check in" to a spot when they arrived in the morning. 

Q: Do you allow students to stay in the same place all day if it is working for them?
A: After each subject or major transition I have my students gather back at our carpet. 
From the carpet I do our whole group instruction and after I am done that is when I then choose students to check in and select their spot. (I send only 3 students at a time to check in) If the same spot that they were working in earlier is still available they are free to work there again.  

Q: What is the classroom management system in a room where the kids are all over the place and not facing the teacher?
A: Most of the timr during whole group instruction I have my students on the carpet. If they are not on the carpet the must be in a spot facing me where they can see the board.

I hope that you found this flexible seating Q&A resourceful. Like I said earlier there is no wrong or way to do flexible seating as long as it works for you and your students. During this journey may try out a few different ways until you find out what works for you. 

If you have experience with flexible seating in your classroom and do things differently than a way I mentioned I'd love for you to share your experience below. Our greatest teachers are truly our students and eachother.

You can also click the picture below to see how I set up my first grade classroom to make it Flexible Seating ready.

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