Room Arrangement

Flexible Seating, Flexible teaching: Room Arrangement

I have had multiple versions of flexible seating in my classrooms over the past 10+ years and I LOVED every one of them! I truly did! Breaking away from the old 1950s (even earlier) teaching configuration to create cozy, inviting, relaxing come-in-and sit rooms, has made a world of difference for my students.

The students and I own the room: we move furniture as we need it; science experiments, art projects, small-group problem-solving, whole group work, listening centers, hands-on crafting and ideating….the reasons to change tales, chairs, desks, couches, are endless.

With so many changes possible at any given time, I learned to go with the flow of creativity and student-driven learning and excitement, to accept a fluid room. This wasn’t always the case…

I used to ask students to place the furniture “back where it belongs”, in other words, to a Homebase configuration the end of each day. I needed the grounding feeling at the conclusion of the day. I needed the reliability of predictability each morning when I walked into the room before the start of the school day. I wanted my students to see the “normalness” in their room each day. We gather for morning meetings, looking at the day’s schedule with expectations and announcements so no one was thrown off.

Looking at my need to move everything back into place has me thinking and pondering. Is this necessary? Does it matter more to me or to the students? There was only one way to find out: ask the change agents! The class!

Since I am a firm believer in students owning their learning, I believe they should help decide how the furniture should be arranged the end of/start of each day (unless I had a specific need that overrode their thoughts). If they wanted the sameness each morning upon first glance at the start of the day then we would make sure this was so. If they didn’t care, we wouldn’t waste our time rearranging the furniture, rather leave it as we last used it the day prior.

So ask yourself and your students, their thoughts on room arrangement the end of and start of the next morning. You might be surprised and learn something new from them as learners and persons.

When I did, this took my own pressure off of me and gave them another opportunity to express their student voices and student choices. Will you be “Open” to their choices and desires? It is well worth the discussion.

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