Beginners Guide: Flexible Seating in the Classroom

As you’ve skimmed through Pinterest for teacher ideas, I am sure you’ve noticed a lot of new posts on ‘flexible seating’. Which have peaked your  interested or, at the very least, you are now intrigued.

Am I right?

Well, let me provide you with a few tips on Why? and How? to get this started in your classroom.


The Two Sisters introduced me to student choice many years ago in their books The Daily 5/CAFE.  Through this idea of Centers or Stations, I was able to implement ‘flexible seating’ before it really even had a name.  As an Instructional Coach, I am seeing more and more teachers jump on this new student-centered idea.  Giving students the opportunity to earn or choose their seating benefits the classroom for many reasons…

  • student-buy in
  • more focused and attentive students
  • develop learner autonomy
  • initiate problem solving
  • foster responsibility

The students are apart of the decision making when it comes to ‘flexible seating’.  They get to make the choices, reflect on the decisions that they made, and because of that become productive members of the classroom learning environment.  One of my favorite TPT and blog posts on flexible seating is by Tammy Danley, she explains how she jumped ‘feet first’ into this idea because of the student feedback.

She has some wonderful advice on how to get the students to develop autonomy, problem solve and become responsible.  Because I will warn you!!!

You will want to throw in the towel because it is such a drastic change from what students are so used to – sitting in a hard, uncomfortable chair all day. BUT it is well worth the time and skills you are helping students develop.


First– Decide what seating you will want, offered, and house in the classroom.  This is a great time to give students a list of options and allow them to express what they want.  Here are some ideas..

  • bean bags
  • exercise balls
  • rolling chairs
  • floor pillows
  • cushioned crates
  • benches
  • wobble stools
  • stools
  • cushioned buckets
  • chair cushions
  • folding chairs
  • sit spots

Second- Troll the Dollar Tree or Dollar General for good deals and comb through Pinterest for ideas only your most out of the box thinker can imagine.

ThirdCreate Rules and a student/class Contract that will help hold everyone accountable.

Fourth– The day the new seating changes DON’T try them all at once.  Sneak them in slowly or the students will become very overwhelmed, as will you 😉  DO allow students to play around with the seating for about 5-10 minutes.  Let them get this out of the way because you know they are going to do it no matter what you say, so you might as well let them get their ‘play’ in before applying the strict expectations.

This student-centered idea allows students to feel as if the class was made for them.  When taking the time to find out what they want from their classroom, students will feel appreciated, cared for, and, most of all, important.  This will give you the opportunity to help them become successful.

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