Kindergarten Classroom: Jamie Spikerman
I'm so excited for you all to meet Jamie! Her insight is wonderful, and she gives many helpful tips that I have never heard before. Enjoy her classroom tour!
Tell us a little about yourself! What grade, state, district, Twitter handle, experience.
I teach Kindergarten in Montgomery ISD in Texas. You can find me on Twitter at @talk2jamie and my class @SpikeSTARS. I have taught for 13 years. Not all 13 have been in Kinder- I have also taught First and Third grades.
1. Tell us about your journey with flexible seating? What inspired you?
I began my journey with flexible seating 4 years ago when I was teaching third grade. I had a small room and a group of students who needed to move more than I had noticed with any other group I've taught. So, I just started by taking a couple desks out to make room. They loved it! So, I took out a few more. Then it morphed in to taking legs of some of the desks so they could sit on the floor. So, I guess my kids inspired me - along with how well it helped my classroom flow.
2. Any roadblocks or things you had to overcome?
Yes! Getting others on board and/or open to the idea of how I set up my room. And, I had to show coworkers, and in some cases admin or parents, that my flexible seating did not mean I was flexible with everything in my room and/or lacked control and structure just because I allowed the students to get comfortable and have choices. I also had state testing in third grade and I had to fight for my kids to use their ball chairs during testing. I won! But- I did have to have them all at desks....
3. What are your students' favorite spots?
Ball chairs are always the most popular seating in any grade I've taught. Now that I am in kindergarten, they love just being all sprawled out on the floor. I have also noticed they love sitting or standing anywhere that I typically sit (reading table, my rocking chair)
4. What are the benefits to flexible seating that you have seen so far?
Comfort! The students are allowed to get comfortable and therefore the work seems conquerable. I think flexible seating has greatly reduced my off task behaviors and my repetition of things like, "stop", "eyes over here", and "stop playing with your glue"! They are comfortable and in turn - engaged in what they have to do.
5. Where do your students keep their "stuff?
In third grade , each child had a 'book box' and I had one tall bookshelf where they kept them. Their supplies were kept in a pencil box that we just stacked up on the counter when they were using it. In kindergarten, we have mostly community supplies. But, each student still has their own supply box that they just get from the counter in the morning and put it wherever they choose to sit. And, regardless of the grade - I always have a place for each student to 'park' their stuff - whether it be book boxes or a 'cubby' for the littlest learners.
6. Help us troubleshoot. Any helpful tips or things you do to get your students used to flexible seating?
One thing I finally figured out is that if I designate my rug or general whole group gathering 'spot as an area students cannot sit in to work, it makes it so much easier to transition between whole group and individual work. I always would be so frustrated during these transitions because there would be students who had to gather up alllllllll their things just so we could come to the floor. So, to this day the rug/whole group meeting area is off limits for seating.
Oh, and I also inflate just one ball chair and use it myself for a week - modeling it. And then I just inflate one or two a day until all are finally out in the room. Yes, I have one ball chair for each student. Some kids still choose to be on the floor, or stand, etc. But, they all have a ball chair as a choice.