Second-graders in Dani Schatz’ class at Bayville Primary School are often given choices as to where they would like to sit during a lesson. What makes these choices unique is that they can choose the type of seat, not just the location of that seat. Students can be found sitting on scoop rockers and yoga balls or working at standing desks and on stools while Ms. Schatz walks around the room leading various lessons.
The concept of flexible seating is one that Ms. Schatz researched prior to instituting, with the goal of providing the right work environment for each student. “Every student’s ideal work environment isn’t necessarily sitting at a desk,” she said. “Research shows that when you give students a choice in their physical environment they feel more responsible and empowered, which leads them to completing their work more efficiently.”
Her classroom contains various types of seats, some on the floor, others with writing tables attached. Students are given the opportunity to choose their preferred seating before certain lessons begin. Ms. Schatz said she notices that using the flexible seating options has become a large motivator for students.
“When they choose the seat that makes them most comfortable, they become more attentive.” She added that giving them such choices shows students that she trusts them, which gives them a sense of pride and confidence.
Anthony Davidson, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said flexible seating channels children’s natural need for movement, allowing for the fact that for some children, the opportunity to fidget and move actually increases focus and attention.
“When educators like Ms. Schatz recognize that sitting still is not an option for many young people and offer flexible seating, students are empowered, their performance increases and negative behaviors decrease,” he said.