A Different Perspective: A High School Journey into Flexible Seating

Recently, my husband removed all of the furniture from our living room, vacuumed, then suggested we try a new arrangement. I resisted at first because we had had the same living room furniture configuration since we built our house. That’s a thirteen year span for the same furniture arrangement.  I thought it was the perfect arrangement. The couch, one recliner, and an antique chair had a perfect view of the widescreen TV, while one recliner was set back a bit and at a slight angle, but it still had a good view.  The paintings, school pictures, family photos, decorative shelves were perfectly placed round the furniture. It was a cozy. I could see the TV from the breakfast nook and from one end or side of my bar counter.  It was the way it had always been arranged, a status quo. Huh. I swallowed my instant desire for the original furniture placement and agreed to try something different.

Trust I Seek And I Find In You

We tinkered, thought, and discussed. We finally came to a tentative decision based on a reasonable layout that opened up an entry way that had been previously partially blocked by my recliner. Basically, the new layout was a quarter turn clockwise around the room of the original. My recliner no longer faced the two big windows and the window door that led to the back deck. That was one of my favorite views, but now I faced the stairway wall where we placed the TV. I could also see my beautiful wooden front door and entryway, but that wasn’t quite the same as facing those large windows to see the birds bop around the deck, snow silently piling up on the deck, or the errant squirrel running a tightrope on the wooden deck railing.

As I chopped and prepped ten pounds of potatoes to make my locally famous mashed potatoes (my family, church people, and a select few students will swear by them) for one of our two Thanksgiving dinners, I could no longer see the TV. Hmm. I finished the potatoes and a layered overnight salad, cleaned up the kitchen and rounded the corner into the living room.  It felt strange, not cozy. I sat in my recliner and pondered the status quo. Hmmmm.

Everyday For Us Something New

As I stated in a previous post, I am naturally oppositional defiant when it comes to the way things have always been done, and I do a decent job of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Or, so I thought. Sitting in my newly configured living room, I thought about my reaction, emotions, and my own classroom. I am beginning a journey toward flexible seating in my high school, and while I plan to roll it out slowly, I know I will encounter push back. Students will not like changes to the furniture options and arrangements at first. They are used to regular student desks, old fashioned desks, or tables in our high school classrooms. My students know they can sit at any desk as long as it will not disrupt the class. (Some students get more attached to their “spot” than others, so we try to stay aware of this.)  However, I’m going to be removing some desks. Many students resist change.  I will bring in a coffee table and carpet squares for lower seating. It will be different. I will convert my current large lectern (podium) into a standing station for two or three students and plan to bring in a smaller wooden podium that will accommodate one student. It will seem crazy to them. Hmm.

Open Mind For A Different View

My new furniture arrangement in my living room is growing on me. I now love the new perspective from my recliner on the rare moments I’m home and can enjoy it. I love the new openness from my living room to the entryway. As for my classroom, I know some students will adapt and like it faster than others. I will watch for signs of discomfort beyond what is normal for the situation. I’ll ease them into this new world of change, comfort, and choice.

Fortunately for my students and myself, this isn’t a journey we have to make alone. There are teachers out there who have “been there done that” and are willing to share. A couple teachers and I will be using the hashtag #flexseatsharing as we document our journey. While I gather pieces to introduce into my classroom, I will have students come up with rules for the new seating options, see if they have anything at home that they want to include in the classroom, and give them a voice in the process.

Nothing Else Matters

The view may be different as we transform my room. It may not feel comfortable at first. A new section of the room may be in their line of sight. My students will have to broaden their comfort zone. If flexible seating helps them, then I have no qualms about pushing my students past the boundaries of status quo, past finding comfort in the way things have always been done. I will shift their perspective one quarter turn clockwise. I know that I’m a tad late to the game, and that it started without me. That’s okay. I’m here now.

Section headings adapted from Nothing Else Matters By Metallica.

2 thoughts on “A Different Perspective: A High School Journey into Flexible Seating

  1. Great “view” Laura! My boys have gone to an exploratory school for the last several years and it is always interesting to walk into the classrooms and see kids in all kinds of different seating. I see the kiddos a little more relaxed and focused on the work instead of the fidgeting that I see in other schools. We also always need to remember change is good, maybe not comfortable but it will help us grow!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just rearranged my living room after having it the same for 5 years! What does that have to do with education? I homeschool & we do our work in the living room mostly. The new arrangement gives my kids more options for doing their work: sitting on the couch, sitting at a table, spreading out on the floor, or even room to stand or walk around! I also love how the chances seem to make them more willing to do things differently than they usually do! It’s a new perspective & I can’t wait to see how it works in your classroom!

    Liked by 1 person

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