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The First Day Of School With Flexible Seating

I have had several requests to do a more in depth “how to” of flexible seating on the first day of school. The above pictures are from the first day of school last year!! No chaos here!! I did write a blog post that talks about the first few days of school but this post will strictly just be about the first day. I think all of us are nervous when it comes to the first day!!! Throw in a less controlled environment like flexible seating and you might just want to head out the door! But don’t be nervous! You can do this!! Starting day1 with flexible seating is just like any other first day of school. You will introduce it slowly and train your students on how it works. So here we go!!
When my students come in the room I direct them to the carpet area. A whole group area is a MUST with flexible seating. I love using SitSpots for my "carpet" area. They are way cheaper than those overpriced rugs and way cuter in my opinon. (Get yours here) I usually have toys here to keep my students busy while I say a few words to the parents. (yes, I let parents in the room.) I tell my students to have their parents help them hang up their backpack on our cart and say a quick goodbye. I help students who do not have an adult in the room. 

On the first day we spend a lot of time on our carpet area. We can read stories, play get to know you games (I teach them how to make a big square around the edges of the SitSpots), or stand up and do some GoNoodle to get the wiggles out. This whole group area is a life saver when it comes to flexible seating. If I feel at anytime that I am loosing control, I can call everyone back to the carpet area and we can regroup. This is the only area in my room where students have an assigned seat. I show them their assigned seat right after the parents leave the room. Kids always amaze me how quckily they can remember their assigned spot. 

Do I do work on the first day??? (I knew you were thinking that!!) And, yes I do!!! We do a few independant activities on the first day. I have tons of seating choices in my room...but I DO NOT USE THEM ALL ON THE FIRST DAY. Or even the first couple of days. It takes time. If you let them use all your seats on day 1, you are going to go crazy. On day1, I introduce them to 3 areas. The carpet, floor table, and standing table. That's it! I also DO NOT LET STUDENTS CHOOSE on the first day. I rotate them through all 3 choices on day1. Fexible seating is all about choice and in week 2 I do let my students choose their spot during work time but they need to experience all spots before knowing whats best for.them. In my classroom I don't have my students pick one spot for the whole day. That is not ture flexible seating. If they need to move, I let them. 

Ok, so back to the first day. When it's time to do our first "work" activity I quickly show them our 3 areas. I explain that at the floor table they can sit on the cushion, or keel on the floor without the cushion. I also explain that only 6 students are allowed here. 

I explain that at our standing tables they can stand or kneel on the floor. In a couple of days I let them bring stools to sit on at these tables and eventually they can have the option of sitting on a yoga ball chair at these tables. I explain that on the carpet they will need a clipboard to hold their work. I tell them that they can sit or lay any way they please on the carpet.                                   
In this picture, you can see what we work up to in the first couple of weeks. Last year by day 6 all my choices were up and going. (well except yoga balls, those came day 15) 

How do I choose who goes where? Do I use some chart with clips or magnents?? Nope!! But you can if you want, there are lots of great ones on Teachers pay Teachers. For the first activity I just place them. Then later on I say raise your hand if you have not been to the floor table.and .then I put new kids at the table. And so on with the other choices. Fancy right!!?? I make sure that the students have been to all 3 choices during day1. For supplies, I use community supples. So if there is a tub at the table, they use those supplies. If they are on the carpet I bring a caddy down to the carpet for them to use. Later that caddy just stays on a shelf, and students just go and grab what they need. 

Here is a quck video of how far my kids had progessed with flexible seating by day 6. They were choosing their own spots starting on day 6!!!                                                                              
That is pretty much it for the first day!! Keep it simple!! For me, simple is using my whole group area a ton and then using my 3 areas (carpet, floor table, and standing tables) for independant work time. Don't stress about all the options in the room. It's easier to start off slow, then have to go backwords becuase too much was introduced too fast. I hope you have wonderful first day with your students and flexible seating!!!!! Let me know if I can help you in any way!!!!



Flexible Seating and Classroom Management

How does flexible seating and classroom management work? When I am helping teachers launch flexible seating one of the main concerns is "will my class be out of control, since I am giving up some control?" And my answer always is, if you already have strong classroom management, then the switch is very easy. If management is something you are working on, I hope that these ideas help you! 

In my classroom I use 2 things for classroom management. I use Whole Brain Teaching and Gold Tags!!! I do not use things such as clipcharts, the flip your card system, prizes, take away recess, etc. I am firm believer that all of those systems only work for students who can behave on their own. To me those seem to be a way to "publicly shame" students. I would be mortified if my principal asked me to clip down, flip my card, or take away part of my lunch break because I whispered to my neighbor during a staff meeting. I have used the flip your card system (during my first 3 years of teaching) but it truly never worked and I felt horrible every time I made a student flip their card. So I knew that I needed to make a change in my classroom. 
I am a firm believer in positive behavior management.
                                        

These are the 5 rules (click to get these rule posters) from Whole Brain Teaching that I live by. Every issue that comes up in the classroom can be dealt with by referring back to one of these rules. In the beginning of the school year we go over these rules many times a day. Then as the year goes on we refer to them when issues come up or after coming back from a break. I love that these rules are things to DO instead of things not to do. Totally positive mindset!!









The next thing that changed my life was the Gold Tag system that I learned about from A Teeny Tiny Teacher.  When I read her post a few years back I knew that this is what I was looking for! Basically I pass out gold tags (yellow strips of laminated yellow construction paper) for any and all positive behavior! In the first few weeks I carry these babies with me everywhere, so I can pass them out at anytime. In line quietly after recess? Gold Tag! Raised a quiet hand? Gold Tag! Followed directions quickly? Maybe 2 Gold Tags for you!!! I love how simple and easy this system is. When a student is not doing what I would expect I usually give their neighbor a tag and say something like "Brooke, here is a gold tag for you since you are sitting pancake, pretzels on the carpet". Then my other sweet friend will fix their behavior without me drawing any attention to them. I do not take away tags. It's just not my thing. I make sure to reward my sweet kiddos who struggle with making smart choices as often as possible. The more positive recognition they get the more they will want to please you! Promise!!! On Friday, we sit in a big circle on the floor and count up the tags. I teach the kids to put them in groups of 5 pretending the tags are tally marks. Then whoever has the most gets to choose what area they want to go to first for free time. We then keep going by who has the most next until everyone has chosen. (A Teeny Tiny Teacher uses a chart for the kids to choose, but I just let them tell me and off they go) The kids put their tags back in the bucket so that everyone starts over on Monday. 

I promise that this system can work at any school! I have used it at 2 VERY different schools and it worked wonders at both places. Give it a try!!! You won't regret it!!!



SitSpots!!!!!


Do you love SitSpots as much as I do???? They are so much fun! I have used SitSpots in my classroom now for 2 years. Last school year I wanted to incorporate more color in my classroom and new that buying a classroom carpet was not in my budget! I knew that SitSpots was way more affordable and way more cute in my opinion. SitSpots are velcro shapes that stick to your classroom carpet! They come in a varitey of adorable shapes and colors. I prefer the "bright" ones. They match my classroom perfectly!! Here is my classroom "carpet" area with circle SitSpots. Each summer I just peel them up and throw them in the washer to clean them up! They look brand new each time I wash them. If you would like a sample just click here and they will send you one!!
Recently I was at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference.
(I got to present and attend the conference!) I attended Joyce's (the founder of SitSpots) session all about SitSpots! She showed so many ways to used them! Of course as a carpet area but also she showed so many different games! I was excited to get more and make a fun game for my room! I decided on a subtraction game with the adorable feet! (I used sharpie paint marker to write on them.) 
Here are some 3 super quick videos (from my Instagram) about the game. I hope you love it! Click here to get some SitSpots for your classsroom! I promise that you will love them too!!!



Where do you store all the stuff???

Ok, so I get this question all the time. I have to say when I was first starting flexible seating I was also worried about where I would store all the crap, stuff that we need in our classroom to function!!!! Since I only have tables in my room I knew I needed to be creative.
When I moved from Kindergarten to First Grade, I was so bummed to not have built in cubbies in my classroom. I had gotten so used to having a spot for kids to put their papers throughout the day. A friend asked me if I wanted these drawers, and I of course said yes!!! Now everyone has a cubby to put papers in during the day. The labels from Lucky Little Learners are so cute and help kids find their cubby easier. 


With no chairs, came the thought about the dreaded backpacks. Can I just say I hate, don’t like backpacks? Why does a 6-year-old need a backpack that is half their size? I saw so many teachers with coat rooms, or lockers!!!! Well, that will never happen in California, so when I saw this backpack cart, I knew I had to have it! It’s wonderful, and I no longer despise backpacks (at least not as much). It has 28 hooks and a shelf at the bottom. 
   


Each of my students have their own book box. Inside they keep books from our curriculum, an AR book (the reading level system we use), and some “just for fun” books from our library. I do not use glue sticks and haven’t for years now. I use glue sponges!! They are the best thing ever. Here is a tutorial so you can make some too! I have this wonderful shelf in my classroom that I inherited since no one wanted it!!!! On the back side we store our math journals in it.

           
           


Since we are a 1:1 school (every student has a device), every student needs headphones. I cut apart a shoe organizer and stapled it to the wall, with about 1,000,000 staples. It does fall down from time to time, but I just attack it again with the stapler. We do community supplies so I have 4 table tubs that have pencils, scissors, and crayons. Students just grab what they need and put it back in the matching tub when we clean up. I keep clipboards in this cool clipboard holder! Students use clipboards when working on the floor or sitting on a stool that is not at a table. 

I do have a couple nice tall cabinets that I store workbooks, etc, in. I am lucky to have parent helpers tear pages out each week for my students to use. This way my students do not need to store these workbooks themselves. 

I think that just about covers all the ways I store supplies in my classroom! Don't forget to sign up to follow me by email so you don't miss out!!! 







Flexible Seating How To

Are you ready to start flexible seating in your classroom? I promise you that you will love it! With a little creativity, hard work, and training, you can have flexible seating up and running in your classroom! 

Here is how to get started.
1. Decide what you want your room to look like:
Desks?  Tables?  No tables or desks?
What kind of seats do you want to have?
Do you need a group space for whole group teaching? 
I strongly recommend a whole group area for direct instruction. I suggest having assigned seats here so you can place students where they can learn best when listening to you teach! Here are pictures of the different seats that I have in my classroom.


For my whole group area I use Sitspots!!! I love them! They are velcro dots (they have tons of cute shapes and colors!) that stick to my carpet! Much cheaper than traditional classroom rugs and they match my classroom perfectly. Click here to order some Sitspots for your classroom.  

2. Start collecting seats/find spots in your room
You should have at least enough alternative spots for half the class, this will help with fighting over seats. Carpet, standing table/counter, and floor table can be done for free. I found a few of my seating choices at garage sales! I found the IKEA egg chair for $5!!! My rocking chairs and massage chair I stole got from my mom’s house! I also received a lot of my seats from DonorsChoose. So be creative when trying to find seats that fit your classroom and your budget!!!

3. Introduce a couple seating choices at a time:
 Decide your rules with each seat before you let students use them. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, for them, so they understand how to use the seat correctly. I started with floor, sitting table, and standing tables. When on the floor my students use a clipboard. You will need to rotate every student through each seating choice. This way they will learn what works best for them. By choosing for them in the beginning, you don’t have any issues with fighting. (maybe later, but not yet. J) On the first day of school my students had all been to the carpet area, floor table, and standing tables. 



On day 2 I introduced the round table, bench, and wobble stools. On day 4 I introduced couches, cushions, and rocking chairs. 

          






By day 6 my students had been to all seating choices and were ready to start choosing their seats on their own. (I brought in the yoga balls on day 15) It was so amazing to see this going so smooth so fast. My biggest rule is “Miss Pittman can move you at any time if the seat is not working for you”. In my classroom they can pick any seat during independent work time. They can move if they want during that time. My students use multiple seating options throughout the day.  

Be consistent! Be firm, but loving. Don’t make moving them about punishment, help them to understand why that is working at the moment and help them to find a better option is they need help with a new choice.

Next up....where I store all the stuff!!! Make sure you are following me so you don't miss out!!!

Flexible Seating: My Journey



There is so much with flexible seating that it would make this a never ending long post, so I am going to break it down in a couple of posts to help you get started on your flexible seating journey. When I see this picture my 💗 is so happy! This is what I always wanted in my classroom but didn't realize it until year 11 of teaching. Part of me always felt wrong about being so controlling about every choice (or lack of choice my students had). I decided that if I was so strongly passionate about doing what is best for students then I needed to allow more freedom in my room. And when I say freedom, I don't mean chaos. This WILL work in any school and any grade! Of course it takes training and time, but it is so worth it!! My slogan is "choice equals engagement", and it is so true! 

One day I came across a wonderful teacher named Greg. (click on his name to see his room!) His classroom spoke to me! I knew that I had finally found an idea of what I wanted my classroom to look like. I am so grateful to Greg because he has always been so kind to me in answering my questions and supporting my journey. 

After a ton of research, thought, and seeing others start their own journey I finally decided I wanted a mix of tables and non table options for my students. 
                                          Here is my classroom in August 2015. 
(Yes, we have ipads for every student. We are so, so lucky!!!)
I have used tables in my classroom for 8 years now. When I taught kindergarten, tables were already in the room and I fell in love with them! No kids hiding in their desk (I can't believe they can get their heads in there!), lost papers, lost pencils, and not to mention food that gets lost in there! YUCK!!! So when I changed schools and grades (back to 1st)  I knew I wanted to keep tables in my room. My new principal was very supportive and got tables right away. So when I started the school year in this picture we did open seating. Students came in each day and picked where they wanted to sit for the day. After we got this down, I knew I was ready to move more towards my dream classroom. 

Here I started to introduce new works spaces in the classroom. No need to do work only at a table if that doesn't work for you!! You can see students working on the floor, standing up, and using seats I had recently got the wobble stools and rocker seats. I was LOVING this but knew it wasn't quite my dream yet. 
In Janurary 2016 I changed my classroom to this!!!

I took out 1 table. I lowered 1 table to be a floor table, I raised up 1 table to be a standing table, and brought in yoga balls (we had already been using the wobble stools). 

I made a few more tweaks to my classroom before starting off the 2016-2017 school year and this is what my room currently looks like!!!

Don't worry, that sweetie is not sleeping!!! He is just laying down to do his work. The clipboard got cut off in the photo. I'm not opposed to naps, I take one every Sunday~ But no time for naps in 1st grade!!!! I added a few more seats like the blue cushion and mini couches. I did take out the standing table. No one wanted to stand, they just wanted to sit under it. So I took it out to make to room more open.

So that's my journey!!!! It's the best thing I have ever done for my students! My next post will be all about how to get this going in your classroom! Be sure to sign up to follow me by email so you won't miss out!!!



Classroom Tour




Here is my classroom! I am a full flexible seating classroom. I have been doing flexible seating for a year and a half now. It's one of the best things I have ever done! I will never go back!!! This set up just feels right to me. Giving students choice in the classroom about where they sit is so empowering to them. I have seen improvement in working stamina, test scores, kids being able to get the wiggles out while working, and all around happier kids! I want my students to be comfortable when they work. When I am working at home I don't sit in a hard uncomfortable chair (my favorite place is my Tempur-pedic bed!!) and I don't want that for my students either. I do have traditional chairs as well for those who want to sit in a traditional seat. (But no one ever does, unless its small group time with me)

I started in January of 2016, which was nice because my students were already trained, so adding something so different went pretty smooth. This is also how I started the year off this year on the first day of school. I will be doing a "how to implement flexible seating" blog series very soon!! 

In my classroom my students can choose to sit wherever they want during independent work time. They can choose different spots throughout the day. I only have assigned seats on the "carpet area" Each student has an assigned sitspot (click on "sitspot" to order!) that they sit on during direct instruction time. Do you use sitspots?? If not, you should!!! I have put 2 videos here so you can get a real feel of my classroom. If you have any questions leave a comment below! Hope you enjoy seeing my classroom. It's my home away from home! 


Click on the words below for the videos to open!!!!!


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