So, you’ve introduced flexible seating in your classroom but now it’s starting not to work. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, teacher friend. Keep reading to see 5 things you can do before you quit flexible seating in your classroom for good.
Disclosure: This page may contain some affiliate links. When you purchase items after clicking on links or images, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure for more information.
About half-way through the school year, my students started to struggle with using their flexible seating options correctly. First, a student poked a hole in one of our stability balls on a day that I had a substitute teacher. I truly believe that it was an accident, but I had warned my students (and still warn them) to keep pencils away from the stability balls and off the floor. I tried to patch it, but it didn’t work. We had a funeral for the stability ball and replaced it with a chair. I was very stern in reminding the students that our stability balls cost money. They also realized that was one less option that they could choose from.
The second huge issue happening in my room is fighting over spots, specifically fighting over who gets to sit on the Hokki Stools. Baby, when I tell you! My students were ready to put the WWE smackdown on each other to get to these seats. I will admit that I let this go on far too long. My students literally ran from their cubbies to the Hokki Stools every time we transitioned to a new subject. Mind you, I gave several reminders to them to walk and not rush to the seats, I went over the flexible seating rules, yet they ran anyway.
Well one day, I had enough! I sat my students on the carpet one morning after the bell rang and explained that we would now have assigned seats in the classroom. I encouraged them to use the time that they were banned from exercising their choice to choose a seat to think about our rules.
Of course, the arguing over seats ended instantly. Transitioning from one subject to the other was no longer rushed because they knew they were going right back to their same seats. Did the kids hate it? Yes, probably. Do I think they learned a valuable lesson? I hope so. When I allow them to choose their spots again, I hope they remember our rules for choosing flexible seating options.
This brings me to you, teacher friend. I am a member of many Facebook groups for teachers, and many teachers have expressed that flexible seating worked at the beginning of the year, but now it’s not. You might feel like you’ve wasted your money and your time setting up your classroom with flexible seating. You might be disappointed by your students because they are not using their flexible seating options appropriately. You might be ready to take all of your flexible seating options out of your classroom. If any of these statements resonate with you, here are a few things that you can do:
1. Breathe…then honestly ask yourself if you want to continue using flexible seating
Teacher guilt will creep inside your beautiful brain and tell you that flexible seating is not working and it’s all your fault. Well, sometimes it is. That’s just the truth. If you honestly know that your class does not respond to your classroom management and classroom discipline without the addition of flexible seating, then you might have needed to wait to begin flexible seating. But sometimes it’s the kids. My group of students this year did not handle flexible seating as well as last year’s group. I had to take on a different approach. New year, same system, but different kids.
If your answer is yes, then go to the next step. If your answer is no, remove all of your flexible seating options and return to traditional seating. It’s not the end of the world. Also remember that you can re-introduce flexible seating again when you and the students are ready.
2. Write down what is working and what is not working
After you write those things down, do some research on the Internet. There are many teachers rocking it at flexible seating. There are other teachers who tried it out and it wasn’t successful. Even reading their stories might encourage you to keep going. Here are some articles you might be interested in viewing:
After doing this step, try to find solutions for the things that are not working. What changes do you need to make with management or discipline? What are some things that you can implement today or tomorrow that can help to turn this around?
3. Take all or most of your flexible seating options away
Yep, take all of your flexible seating options away from the students. It is important to explain to your students why flexible seating is being put on hiatus. Also, give them a time table: Students, if you can show me that you are ready, we will re-introduce some of our flexible seating options back into the classroom in two weeks. During their time, dialogue with your students about how they can use flexible seating in a more successful way. Have them write about what went wrong or allow them to create new flexible seating rules for the classroom. You’re the king or queen of your classroom, but don’t rule with an iron fist. Student input is key. By making them a part of this process, you are giving them ownership over the situation so that hopefully they can work together with you to make flexible seating successful again.
4. Slowly re-introduce your flexible seating items
Start with one or a few options at a time. I would recommend one at a time. Monitor the reintroduction of each item. Take the time to review rules and procedures before and after you reintroduce every option.
5. Re-evaluate and make a final decision
The hope is that after you reintroduce your flexible seating options your students will continue to be successful with it for the rest of the school year. However, that might not happen. It’s okay if it doesn’t. As a teacher who may be struggling with flexible seating, you have to decide if it is something that you can continue doing. Don’t feel that you are a failure if you have to quit and return to traditional seating. Additionally, don’t keep doing flexible seating when you know that it honestly is not working.
Do you use flexible seating in your classroom? What would your advice be to someone who is struggling with its implementation? Share your advice in the comments.
- CALLING ALL FIRST AND SECOND GRADE TEACHERS! Join me and a great group of other fabulous 1st and 2nd grade teachers in my Facebook group, Taming First & Second Grade. We have great discussions and you can gain some much needed inspiration.
- I’ll also be posting this blog topic on my Instagram and Facebook page.
- If you love the content on this blog and want more exclusive content sent directly to your inbox, join the Tame the Classroom mailing list.