Getting students engaged can only happen when students have their brains and bodies relaxed and ready to learn. Being uncomfortable, anxious at agitated makes all learning stop. It’s like the fly in the staff meeting that keeps landing on your notebook. Who cares about test results and district policies when there’s a fly harassing you (although there is limited engagement at the best of times for those kind of staff meetings)?
Guess what? Not all students like to work sitting at desks. Do all adults grow up to sit in desks all day? Is there a rule somewhere that says students have to sit in rows of desks?
We hope not, because we’ve broken that rule. Here are some of the seating options in our room:
- desk with chair
- desk with a chair with a wiggle cushion or a Hokki stool
- on the floor with a clipboard
- at a table in the classroom with a chair
- in a “box”-iffice (a cardboard divider around the desk)
- bean bag chair with a clipboard
- chair at the counter
- sit in the window seat (sorry to anyone without one of these)
- sit under the counter (there’s no cupboard there)
- at the quiet desk in the storage closet in our room (it’s bigger than you think-used to be a resource room)
- with or without sound blocking headphones
- with or without classical music headphones
- in groups or pods
- out in the hallway at a a desk/table
- in the library (during certain times or projects)
- choose your own spot (kids love the floor)
And of course, there is a time and a place for different parts of the day. There are a set of guidelines we follow. Not every space is available for every activity. During testing, everyone is in a desk (possibly with an alternate chair). Then there’s all their stuff. Read about how we handle that in this post.
How do you make this happen? We brainstorm all the possible seating choices and make a list. Students try out the different options they like or do not like or what works best for certain situations. So, we might try a day where we all do our reading in a spot on the floor. Students who liked it write their name in the list next to that option. We reserve the right to veto choices when work is not getting done or students are distracting others.
So, do you think this could work in your classroom? Let us know what you’re trying in your classroom.