How I implemented flexible seating

Hi, guys.  I hope you are having an amazing long weekend and a wonderful start to your school year.   Have you jumped on the flexible seating bandwagon?  This is my first year to use flexible seating.  I am excited, yet nervous about the change.  

Each year I have assigned seats for my students.  I would move students to a different table as needed.  I wanted to have control where they sat.  Can anyone else relate?  Last year I began to allow them to work around the room.  I noticed when they were given this option their focus was better and they were not as easily distracted.  It was a win-win.

With that in mind, I began thinking about the move to a flexible seating classroom, researching the benefits and what I would need to make it happen.  First, I spoke with my administration about the change.  They were supportive and excited about the possibility. One of the first steps for me was spending time during the summer deciding how I wanted this to look.  I also needed to decide what types of seating options I wanted. 

Here are a few tips that I have learned the past two weeks at school. 

How does it look?

I have 4 tables in my classroom instead of desks.  Each table has a different option of seating.  Example: typical chairs, stability balls, crate seats, and pillows.  

I also created an L-shaped bench for extra seating and storage for my classroom books. This area has been perfect for our read aloud. 

Students' also have the option of working on the floor.   Last year, a few of my students loved using laundry baskets.  This is another option I have offered.  

Beginning Process

I need to be very honest.  It has been a learning curve.  I have made adjustments along the way.  The first day of school I  introduced our different seating options.  The first week of school I allowed my class to try out all the different options. We spent the last 10 minutes of  class choosing our "new" spot for the next day.  I no longer have to spend time with this step.  Read further to see how and when they choose their new spots. 

How do you handle supplies?

This was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp.  I wanted to make it as easy as possible for all of my students.  It took a few days, but I finally figured out what works best (for us).  Each student has a drawer to hold all of their supplies. I store their crayons, pencils, scissors, and dry erase markers in a zipper pouch.  They are a perfect size and do not take up much room. 

Each morning they come into the classroom, turn in their nightly folder, put away their backpack, take out their WIP (work in progress) folder and zipper pouch.  They get to choose their new spot for the day.  I have loved the flow of them doing it this way and has not taken long for them to get this procedure down. 

Here is a pano shot of our classroom.  It will give you a little better idea of our seating options and how I have my classroom set up. 

Do you let them change spots during the day? 

Yes!  It is something that I want them to recognize if they need to move independently.  I have been very pleased with how well my first graders are handling this task.  We have days where no one will move to a new spot. Then there are days where a student (or 2) might ask to move.  If they feel like a move to a new table would be best, I want them to take the initiative for that move. 

What about students who can’t handle choosing their own spot?

If a child is unable to handle choosing their own spot I will choose for them.  The goal is as the year progresses they will be able to make this choice independently.   So, I will give them the opportunity to try again.  I believe that part of learning is making mistakes and trying to learn and grow from them.

Are you enjoying the transition?

Yes!  I have loved using flexible seating.  The benefits I have seen far outweigh any issues we have encountered along the way. 

I will keep you posted on how it is going (the good, the bad and the ugly).  I know there will be learning curves along the way, but hopefully, we will have lots of celebrations.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an e-mail. Thanks for joining me on this journey!



  1. Wow! Looks great and very organized! Anne Rozell

  2. Wow, you have a beautiful school building and classroom. It must be a new build. I've never had such a gorgeous place to teach. I love your seating options.

  3. Math whiz, Thank you so much!
    Jackie C., Thank you :)

  4. Thanks for sharing! I get to order some furniture (thanks to my principal!) to start my journey on flexible seating and I can't wait!!

  5. keliehall, That is so exciting! I look forward to hearing how much you and your students love flexible seating. :)

  6. With the changes throughout the day, how do you avoid disagreements over the most popular spots (a special chair or the last yoga ball that suddenly becomes available, etc)

    1. Hi! I have not had many issues. If there are two students who want the same seat we compromise. I will allow one to have it that day and the next day the seat will be saved for the other student. I have one student who uses the same seat daily. I wanted him to try it out to help build core strength. The students understand that we all need different things to help us learn. They have been great about it.