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Monday, August 15, 2016

First Day of School with Flexible Seating!

Hi there!  This will be a quick post since today was the first day of school, I'm exhausted, and still have plenty to do to get ready for another busy day tomorrow! I have had so many questions about flexible seating and how to get it started on the first day of school that I thought I would pop in while it was fresh in my mind to share how our very first day with flexible seating went.

Here's a look into my room on the morning of the first day of school.  At this point, here were the seating options in the room:

  • 6 Regular Chairs & Desks
  • 6 Regular Chairs at a Trapezoid Table
  • 1 Teacher Chair at the Trapezoid Table
  • 6 cushions at a kneeling/sitting height table 
  • 6 standing desks and stools
  • 6 Stability Balls with legs from WittFitt (Read More about this below!)
  • 6 crate chairs at the Teacher Desk
There are 28 students in the class, and 37 seating options, PLUS a great deal of rug space.  It's AMAZING how much more space you have when you start removing desks! As of this afternoon, our Hokki Stools and group gathering rug also arrived!  I will post more about those soon, but for now, this is purely about how the first day with flexible seating went!

On Sunday night before school started, I started to have a little mini panic attack about how I was going to introduce the concept of flexible/alternative seating to the kids.  I thought about having them all come in and choose a seat, but I had visions of mass chaos and arguments as students chose some of the more interesting seats.  This was NOT the tone I wanted to set on the first day of school. So, at 5 o'clock the night before school started, I decided to make name tag tents for my students. 

You can download the simple name tag template FREE by clicking HERE.  The beautiful borders are from RebeccaB Designs and the font is from Kimberly Gesweinb.

Beginning of the Day
I placed a name tag at each seating option, not including the stability balls.  As we gathered outside the classroom, I told the students (who had no idea what they were walking into) that they 1) Needed to find their seat and 2) Were NOT allowed to touch the balls.  They looked at me a little funny, wondering what on Earth I was talking about, but as soon as they walked in, they realized what I meant, and guess what? Not one child touched the balls.   Hooray!

It was totally seamless.  As they all arrived, I explained to them what flexible seating was,  why we were doing it, and that, while they will eventually have more choice in their seating options, the first few weeks would be controlled testing of their seating options so that they can get a feel for what works best for them.  I told them not to fret if they weren't sitting in the most appealing seat for them-- they'd have a chance to test everything out!  

We are referring to their seat with their name tag as "Home Base."  Home Base is where they will sit during independent activities and/or teacher instruction, unless I have them joining me on the carpet.
During the Day

We did math workshop on day one, and during that time, students were able to utilize the flexible seating options, within limits.  Each of my three groups were assigned to one general area to work in, and they had to stay in that area.  For example, my group working on "Math About Me" was at the front of the room, so they could choose to sit at at the teacher desk or the trap table.  My Tessellation Group was working with me on the carpet near the back of the room, so they could choose to work at the low tables or the standing desks.  The games group was toward the side of the room, so they could sit on the floor, with pillows, or at the regular desks.  They could not intermingle groups. This worked really well!

As the day went on, I put the stability balls off to the side so that they weren't tempting.  In the early afternoon, we finally got around to discussing our flexible seating rules (I'll save that for another post) and the rules for the stability balls. The rest of the seating options were easy to talk about rules and didn't require much explicit instruction.  The stability balls, though, needed explicit directions on what to do and what not to do.  I randomly chose six students to try sitting on the stability balls while we went over the rest of the flexible seating rules.    They did a nice job of keeping their bottoms on the balls, feet on the floor (including the feet of the stability balls), and only doing small bounces and rolls.

We also did the ever popular "Save Fred" activity on day one, during which they left their name tags at their home base, but were allowed to sit anywhere in the room with their partner to work on it. 

End of the Day
I really hemmed and hawed about how to handle the end of the day, but ultimately, I decided to let the students choose where their Home Base would be for tomorrow.  I wanted to do this the afternoon before so that students knew where they would be sitting tomorrow and there wouldn't be any question about it tomorrow when they arrive.  I didn't want students trying to arrive earlier in order to get seats or have arguments in the morning.  I had the students pack up for the day and grab their name tags from their Home Base.  Then, I randomly chose students to select their seats for tomorrow.  They simply put their name tents on the seat of their choice.  The only requirement was that they had to choose a different type of seating tomorrow so that they get a feel for all of the options.  There were no arguments at all!

I am fully aware that we are in the Honeymoon Phase still, but I think I can easily call the first day a success.  I loved looking around the classroom watching the kids at the standing desks rocking their feet on the 'Rock Bars' and watching me intently.  I have high, high hopes for this new model!

I'll be back soon to update as well as to write more about my first week of school lesson plans.  Happy Teaching! 


  1. Seems like you had a great first day, and such a pleasant experience with flexible seating! Can't wait to hear more.

  2. This sounds really similar to how I roll out my flexible seating. An addition that I have is a spreadsheet with all the different seats on it that I can keep track of who has sat where, and we don't go "full on choice" until everyone has tried every type of seating at least once. I also do a survey after a few weeks and have them reflect on where they like to sit, where they work the best, who they work well with, and who they should probably not sit by.

  3. I am also implementing flexible seating this year! We start Sept 6 so I'm anxious to read more about your first week, including what you did for the "rules". Reading this is making me more excited to start this year!

  4. I am trying a limited version of flex seating for the first year, too. I'm glad to hear that it went so well for you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you so much for the explanation of how day one went...seems like it went great! Where are you planning on having the students keep all of their things/books that would normally be in their desks? That is one of my big questions for flexible seating, although I really want to try it. Can't wait to read more about it.

  6. This is great! Thanks for the post. Ii am now encouraged to try this a bit in my room. How will you play scoot with the new seating arrangement?

  7. This is great! Thanks for the post. Now I am encouraged to try out flexible seating a bit in my classroom. How will you play scoot with the new seating arrangements?

    1. So funny you should ask that! We actually tried it today, and it was perfectly fine. We played it the same way as we always would. :)

  8. Switching to tables this year. Not completely flexible seating, but definitely not restricted to one space. I am going to try these.