Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flexible Seating in Middle School

Hi everyone, its Julia from History from the Middle and I'm going to share with you how I do Flexible Seating in my class--YES, my middle school class!  It works!!  I'm going to share with you how I have set up my class, how I share it with my students, and some images of what it looks like in my class!

I start with flexible seating on day 1...Which was actually today!  I first label each of my seats with a table number and a seat number.  I print these out on sticker sheets and place on each desk and then I also print the seat labels on paper to make "seat cards".  These are what I actually use to randomly assign seats at the beginning of the year.

So, on day 1, I lined my students up outside my class, briefly explained that our class has flexible seating, and we would discuss what that is over the next few days, but that today they would just be randomly assigned a seat.  I started with my floor seats first and asked who wanted to sit there, and then randomly handed out the other cards for my other seats.

I have the following options in my class:  Floor seating with stadium seats and an Ikea Coffee Table, 3 low tables with Ikea Stools, 1 lower table with crate seats, multiple desks and chair and then 1 table with Ikea Rolling Chairs.  I am planning on upgrading one of my stool tables with the ALL popular Kore Wobble Stools!  They are a bit pricey, but I think my students will really enjoy having them as one of our choices!  All are part of my flexible seating with the exception of my table with my Ikea Rolling Chairs I'm using as a VIP table this year!  Here is an interesting blog post on VIP Tables!

Ikea Coffee Table with Stadium Seating (I store the seats on the shelf under the table)

Low tables with Ikea stools

Low table with crate seats

Regular desks and chairs

Table with Ikea Rolling Chairs (VIP Table)

I also have two areas in the back of my room that I open up for independent activity time.  One area is my classroom library with 4 bean bags (that I got for a GREAT deal from Craigslist!), the other is an area with some more crate seats and 2 small Ikea Tables.  

Library area with bean bags

Crate seat area with Ikea Side Tables

After day 1 of introducing, I then go into the details of how Flexible Seating will work in our class.  Click HERE to see my Power Point on Flexible Seating that I share with my students!  On the last page of the presentation, I have hyperlinked for your a Google Forms survey that I created to survey the kids on what seating style they like best!  Feel free to copy to your Google Drive and us!  Also, if you're looking for some pre made rules and posters, check these out from Buckeye Teacher!

 Each day, I switch up the seating cards before they come in so they have the opportunity to sit in a different seat.  Once I feel they are comfortable with the seats AND knowledgeable of my rules and expectations with the seats, I then allow them to freely choose.  I initially have them choose a Home Seat which will then be written on a seating chart.  They know that when there is a sub, they will sit in that Home Seat so the sub is able to follow with a seating charts.  

When I first entered the "unchartered waters" of Flexible Seating, I was worried about it not working and not being able to manage it.  I can tell you through reading many other blog posts and just seeing what worked in my own class with my students, I've seen great success!  In fact, it is has now spread to several other classrooms at my school! 

I'd love to hear from other teachers that have either tried ir or are thinking about trying it...Please share below!


  1. I love this idea, and I have toyed with it myself. I had two exercise balls and a podium in my room. I wasn't able to master the storage of the exercise balls, which was a bummer. The podium is great for standing while working, which is the way I prefer to complete tasks. I do have pillows and a rug for a reading area. I'm curious to know how you gathered funds to purchase your seating options. Thanks for an inspiring post.

  2. Are certain seating areas off-limits when you have teaching time or note-taking time? I was thinking of creating a comfy corner that is more or less on the floor but would make it difficult to see the board if we were taking notes.


    1. I tell my kids to sit where they will learn best that day. If they can't see the board from their seat, then in following that mantra they would have to move. (That way it is their idea about what is best for them, not me telling). I would give a quiz the first few times at least and conference with those who did poorly and didn't move if it was because of their seat choice and that when we do notes maybe they need to reevaluate the best spot for their learning.

  3. Two things: 1. My classes are only partly-departmentalized. Storage of textbooks and binders are an issue in my room. Thoughts?
    2. I tried flex seating last year. Most students loved it, but I had a few "squeaky wheel" parents and students who made enough noise that I was forced to put back desks and chairs. Ideas for dealing with that? I really want to go back to my flex seating!!

  4. How do you handle: attendance? Substitutes?

  5. How many students do you have each period? I am seriously considering flexible seating my my 7th grade language arts classroom, but I have as many as 34 students in a class.

  6. Have you had any issues with students who don't use working time to complete tasks? Do you just put that underneath the "Choose the best place for you to be successful" expectation?


  7. Happy Friday!

    Can you tell me more about how the kiddos sit when you are presenting a lesson? I am curious to know. Thanks!

  8. I have an 8th grade math classroom. Much of my curriculum revolves around lecture/notes, and then independent work time. I tried flexible seating last year and it was a disaster. I want to give it another go this year, but am nervous based on the cohort of students I have. My room is fairly small, with 30-36 students per class. Anyone out there used the flexible seating in this situation? What worked and didn't work?