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Flex For Success give sixth grades seating options

October 19, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Becky Adams, a sixth grade teacher at North Tama Elementary, has introduced a flexible seating arrangement, "Flex For Success", in her classes to give students options of different seating for better learning in her classroom and recently presented her findings to the school board on Monday, Oct. 15

"Flexible seating is about choice and independence in the classroom," Adams said. "Students are able to choose where they sit. I have a kitchen table in the classroom, couches, bouncy balls, bungee chairs floor mats, all different types of seating along with basic classroom tables. The students move two to three times during their 90 minutes with me by choice."

Adams explained the choices are to give students options for what works best for them for reading, writing and other class activities. If a certain surface doesn't work for them best, they can switch and find another seating arrangement which helps them accomplish their work in a more productive manner.

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"We pick professions that work best for what we have an interest in," Adams said. "If we want to work in cubicle, we'll find a job that is that way. If we want to be out in the field, we would be in those careers. The idea with flexible seating is students are independently choosing what works best in regard to seating in class."

After conducting extensive research into flexible seating before stating "Flex for Success", Adams prepared for issues that could arise in his classroom. While initially introducing this arrangement wasn't easy for her as a teacher, Adams noticed her students were far more relaxed and comfortable in the classroom after discovering their best way to seat.

"I feel it's become a very inviting classroom and some people in the community have stopped by and commented on how cozy it looks," Adams said. "I've added plants from the Larsens, lamps and smells to keep it homely."

With teaching reading and writing, students are asked to collaborate on work, which Adams points to flexible seating as a benefit for group work as students don't have to move desks around. Behavior in the classroom has also improved according to Adams.

"I would say overall the kids aren't feeling as much anxiety or stress in class situations," Adams said. "They are behaviors from our sixth graders that are happening in other places, but they are enjoying the space and behaving quite well."

This sentiment was supported by Josh Youel, the Elementary Principal, who backed up Adams claims with facts that referrals have been down from last year, when these students were in fifth grade. In the event a class does have interruptions or aren't behaving, the room can be taken away and the students can be placed in a regular class setting until their behavior improves.

"When you walk in, the dialogue is on the subject and the kids are on task," Adams said. "They are learning to communicate with each other. If they want a spot, they don't run or hustle to the spot. We are having fun and having a good time with this."

Adams uses Google Surveys in her class for classwork and has used the program to gauge her student's interest in flex seating. According to a recent survey, 100 percent of the students in her classes like the arrangement. While Adams doubts that 100 percent is totally accurate, she observes a vast majority of students enjoying the seating. Of her 39 students, two are growing into the system.

"If the bouncy ball is getting to the point where feet are off the ground, that's not working for them," Adams said. "The student is more into the bouncing than the task they're work."

Pictures of the classroom and the students in their unique seating arrangements were shown to the board through a powerpoint slideshow. Seats were purchased through classroom funds and donations. The arrangements change on a daily basis.

"You can't just jump in and do this," Adams said. "You have to do some research and have strong classroom management. There's not a whole lot of data on flexible seating, but a lot of schools are doing this. Our world has changed so much since I've been in education. If you can make a space relaxing for students, I'm all for trying."

When asked about how substitute teachers think about the arrangement, Adams explained she left notes and lesson plans to explain how this arrangement works. Subs are encouraged to let extra movement and chatter go as they are discussing their classwork.

The board expressed interest in learning more about flexible seating as the school year moves along. Adams plans to continue her surveys and observing how Flex For Success works in their classroom.



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