I'm pumped that we are chatting with the fabulous Assistant Principal, Kelley Carr. You can connect with her on Twitter here. What she won't tell you about herself is that she relentlessly supports teachers and was the literal nudge at a conference that got me to try flexible seating. "This sounds like something you should do. DO IT!" The support and love she gives teachers is totally unparalleled. I'm thrilled she is sharing her expertise with us! Her enthusiasm and passion for trying new things will literally get anyone on board!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your experience?
I have been active in the field of education for twenty-four years. I spent ten years as a classroom teacher – first and third grades. My journey also includes years as a Specials teacher (Reading through Technology), Instructional Technology Facilitator, Instructional Coach (both English/Language Arts & Math/Science), and most recently an Assistant Principal. To say that I have enjoyed learning and growing in each capacity would be an understatement. I truly feel that I have been blessed to partner with some of the brightest learners/leaders on multiple campuses! I am headed to open a new elementary campus this year as an Assistant Principal and couldn’t be happier.
What are your first thoughts upon entering a classroom with flexible seating?
Entering a classroom where flexible seating is employed has a refreshing look and feel. It means that the classroom leader has purposefully set up learning to have some kind of choice involved. There is something special that happens in classrooms where students get to choose their own seating needs. It means that the lead learner has taken into account that all individuals learn differently! What might be a productive learning spot for one person might like look/feel different for another person…to put that choice in our learners’ hands is fantastic! Kids will amaze us as we trust them to help us figure out HOW they learn best. Let’s use our environment to help us maximize all minutes during our day.
What are the benefits that you can see from the outside?
I can honestly say that I have been overwhelmed by the amount of on-task and productivity happening in classrooms where flexible seating is used. I think that the research about flexible seating says it all in this area: burning more calories, using up excess energy, increased motivation/engagement, and of course better oxygen flow to the brain. We all know that physical activity is linked to higher academic performance for learners of all ages…not to mention, improved behavior. Environments where flexible seating choices are used just seem to work better for kids; just my observation while visiting many learning spaces!
In my opinion, an organized learning space that uses flexible seating has so many benefits. Some of which I just mentioned. However, I believe simply the best benefit is it fosters kids who crave learning and questioning. Students in these environments are better problem solvers. These classrooms make collaboration among peers easier. These classrooms help students communicate with peers for just-in-time learning. Yep, these classrooms tend to be the most creative spaces in buildings, too. Who doesn’t thrive in a creative environment? If you are ready to take the plunge into flexible seating, know that it is a shift in your structure and teaching philosophy. You are going to be asked to give up the control of the traditional seating chart and hand that responsibility of seating choices over to our learners. Be ready to be amazed by our kids!
Anything else you would like to add?
Why not give it a try? You have an entire Personal Learning Network (PLN) here to support you - #DesklessTribe. I honestly believe this is best practice for ALL learners. We want our learning spaces to be student-centered; you can make it happen this year!