Trends in education come and go. A teacher once told me, “If your school changes the way you do things, NEVER throw anything away because it will circle back around again and just be called something different the next time.”
A New Movement for Teachers That’s Here to Stay
One trend in education that is taking the world (or schools) by storm is flexible seating and kinesthetic classrooms. This is a new trend that teachers of the past had not tried before, and it is one that will stick.
I have taught in a kinesthetic classroom for the past 3 years and honestly, I never plan to go back. Don’t you remember the feeling of having “ants in your pants” when you were in school? Didn’t you hate feeling like you had to sit like a statue for hours listening to the teacher? Guess what? The students in your room are kids! They feel the same way you used to. Changing up your classroom can make all the difference in the way they feel about school.
A Peek Into my Classroom
The way my classroom is set up is a mix of kinesthetic seating and flexible seating. I keep students moving with stationary bikes with desk tops, chairs with exercise balls inside, and wobble stools. I also have couches, floor pillows, rugs, and stools for students who want to get comfortable while working in groups.
Managing the Madness
One of the biggest questions I get asked in different variations is, “How do you handle students bouncing off the walls while you are trying to teach?” The short answer is: they don’t. At the very beginning of the school year, I model how they are expected to sit on the furniture in the classroom. Misusing the equipment results in being restricted from using it, and they know I am very stern on the rules. Misusing the kinesthetic seating options in the classroom is not only distracting to other learners but it also could be very dangerous. My students have responded very well to these rules. They are a little excited and “bouncy” for about a day or two and then, the new wears off and they simply use the equipment to wiggle around as they work.
Active Seating Rotation
Another question I get asked is about how I decide who gets to sit where and how I handle the rotation of seats in the classroom. I operate this much like Southwest Airlines, if you have ever flown with them. My students receive new seats each Monday, and each student is grouped into groups A, B, C, D, or E. Each week the letter-group that enters the classroom first changes. When it is your group’s turn to enter first, you enter the classroom before anyone else and choose the seat you want first. Then, the other groups enter and choose their seats.
This ensures no one ends up in the same seat for too long, unless it is the seat they choose. This also gives them the opportunity to sit by their friends. I know. I know. This is sometimes teacher-taboo. However, I have noticed that when I give my students time to talk to each other and put them with people they will actually talk to, the level of learning increases. Just like students weren’t built to sit still, students were also not built to be quiet.
The days of students entering classrooms and being quiet, little statues who come in and have a teacher “talking at them” are over. It is a beautiful thing to see students thrive through movement and conversation!
Implementing movement and flexible seating in your classroom can be a daunting task. It can force you to step out of your comfort zone. It can seem like a risky move, especially to teachers who are concerned with maintaining a high level of classroom management. As a classroom teacher, I know that management is key, but kinesthetic classrooms do NOT have to be chaotic. Allowing students to move and allowing students to “go wild” are two very different things. Your active classroom can be managed to benefit you and your students, and the rewards are truly endless. You will not regret stepping out on a limb and implementing activity into your classroom.
Staci is a teacher in Boiling Springs, SC. She was born in Spartanburg, SC and has lived there her entire life. She attended college at the University of SC Upstate where she received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. She received her Masters from Southern Wesleyan University in Classroom Leadership, and has her +30 in Literacy and Technology. She met her husband in college and has been married for 8 years with 2 children, Madi (5) and Owen (2). She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and shopping.