When you go into a Starbucks, you get to sit in the style of seat that makes you most comfortable. There are sofas, armchairs, and tables with straight-back chairs. I find I work best sitting on a sofa…it’s how I work at home on my laptop or when I am grading papers. Over the last few years I have been reading articles that pop up on Facebook and Twitter about creating classroom environments that have seating choices. The idea intrigued me and so I started working on changing my classroom this year so that the students can decide where they want to sit for the day.
Two summers ago I was at our summer institute hosted by Tustin Unified School District. In one of the classrooms, the teacher had Node chairs made by Steelcase. My wheels started spinning…I WANTED them!
The first thing I added to the room was beanbags. The students really enjoy these and can get comfy around the room. A lot of the students move to a different seat with a desk if they are doing a lot of writing because they know they can’t be as neat while situated in a beanbag.
This school year, I wrote a grant for $3000 to buy the Node student chairs and won the money from Tustin Public School’s Foundation. I was able to get eleven of them and I love them!!! The students are able to get into groups, partners, rows, etc. instantly and with no noise. It is fabulous!!! I have also started a GoFundMe page to gather donations. I need to communicate with community businesses to see if they will donate. That can be a summer endeavor!
As the year continued I have been thinking about different ways the students can sit in the room. I bought two small coffee tables that can be put together to make a square and then I got some pillows for the students to sit on at the table. They were very excited by this! They actually double up the beanbags with the pillows and they are uber comfy! In addition, I have a dining room table with six chairs.
Each day, the students come in and get to choose where they sit. As I only have eleven of the Node chairs, we have groups and each group gets priority each week, to keep it nice and fair. The other seating places are fair game. Because there is no official seating chart, I have the students “swipe in” on the SMARTBoard. All of their names are in one column and they swipe their name to the “I am here!” column. They may not swipe anyone’s name but their own so that my attendance is accurate. Whoever is left in the original column is marked absent.
I have noticed that the students have preferences in the areas where they sit in the room and they tend to choose to sit by the same people. If there are any behaviour issues, however, I have the right to move them so that they can focus on their work and not be a distraction.
It has been working well and I think we are more productive because the students are comfortable in the classroom…even more than they were before! 🙂