Saturday, July 30, 2016

Flexible Seating

Good morning! I woke up this morning quite groggy and exhausted. This has been one long week. I worked on Monday for a mentoring meeting, had Tuesday off, then the entire district came back on Wednesday. It is always tough, as all of you educators know, to go back and sit through "sit and get" sessions. I see what our district tried to do with pumping us up and getting us excited for the year, but sometimes it falls of deaf ears... and that is what happened for me this year. It is partially my own fault, that I only had an hour and a half of work time in my classroom over the three days. I could have gone in earlier... I could have stayed later... but made the choice not to. 

One thing that did happen is teachers came into my room and asked me why I hadn't set up my classroom yet. I replied by telling them that my classroom is set up and that I am using flexible seating this year. I was a little bummed with the faces and replies I got back. There was not much support going my way on this, and I am not surprised. It took me eleven years to get here, and I know it might take one week to send me back to seating charts. My mantra for last year was "Whatever", so at least my mantra for this year is "Cautiously optimistic". I am trying new things - I am working towards believing more in student choice, so it only seems fair that student choice with seating falls in with that. 

Over and over, I tell people that I'm the "non-traditional" teacher, yet my classroom had only desks, set up in pods or in rows. People... that's not "non-traditional"! I knew that my classroom had to look a little different if I was going to walk the walk. I really liked the furniture from MiEN that I saw in Louisville, Colorado for GAFE, but knew I could never convince anyone to purchase $500 chair/desk combos. So I started to think about what I could use in my classroom cheaply. I was sort of thwarted at every turn, but found some cheap camping chairs from Kmart and a couple of floor pillows from Amazon. (The floor pillows are actually pretty awesome. I wish I could afford more for my classroom.) I also moved all of my desks and chairs to the outside of the room. I am bringing in a long folding table (will purchase a tablecloth since it's rather gross) and will allow the students to use yoga balls or the regular chairs for seating, and will also allow them to stand at any place in the room. I may also purchase yoga mats or bath rugs to add more floor options, and I am intrigued with a low table and floor pillows. I know I have more time throughout the year to add more seating options.

So... from the very first day of school, I will have a Slides presentation in the front of the room telling students that they can pick where they sit. I really don't care. As I said "I really don't care out loud", it cements that it does not matter to me where the students sit. Yes, I will still have to move students for misbehaving (it IS middle school) and some students may lose their privileges and have to sit in a classroom desk and chair. But it's the IDEA that students have choice. I think some of them won't know what to do with this... it's too different and weird.

Again, I am cautiously optimistic. It's these little things that make me want to continue teaching.

Thanks for reading! I'll see you next week :)

- Rachel
@historicalipad
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