I was thrilled to have ALL.THE.COLORS. that matched perfectly with my classroom decor. See- look how wonderful it all came together!
So, my 2nd graders filed in and were THRILLED to have landed in Mrs. Bright's class. Mrs. Bright had the cool chairs, Mrs. Bright had tables with exercise balls! Thank you, Mrs. Bright for understanding that my seven year old son needs to wiggle.
Yes, all of these things were said, and yes they are were true. But, what I didn't take into account was the newness as a whole both for me and for my students... but I will get back to that. I also didn't take into account that SOME alternative seating may have been easier to manage than ALL alternative seating. You see, I wanted to dive in and I needed my kids to quickly learn about each seating arrangement because, umm, where were they going to sit in the mean time? So, by the end of week 1, my students were sitting in wobble chairs, ball chairs, bean bags, and beach chairs. NEWS FLASH: THAT'S WAY TOO MANY OPTIONS AFTER ONLY 5 DAYS OF SCHOOL.
But, what about the research I did? I couldn't give up on the thousand dollar transformation I gave my classroom. I had to make it work. So, what did I do? I allowed my students to learn about the final few seating options in week 2. That was a terrible idea.
Don't get me wrong, my students absolutely loved it. They loved the freedom, they loved to be able to wiggle and not get in trouble. But the research I did about students being more attentive- I felt like they were just as attentive and engaged in years past. I thought I was losing every last bit of teacher mind I had left.
See, before I transformed my room into an alternative seating
So, I guess what I am saying is alternative seating was not for me. I felt overwhelmed, I felt like I was constantly blowing up exercise ball chairs, and replacing beans in the bean bag chairs. I felt like I had gone through a rather large classroom transformation that was not reaping the benefits I had read about the previous summer. I know now that I rushed into the seating, and lacked the procedural practice this kind of change desperately needs. I needed to allow myself to change back.
As I head to a brand new school, at a brand new grade level (first grade :)), I will take with me a few alternative seating thoughts:
-students can sit and work anywhere in the room
-students should have a seat to call their own, one that won't be "taken" from them each Monday
-it's ok to try something and not completely fall in love with it, it doesn't make you or the people who use that strategy bad teachers
-DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU- A CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE TEACHER CREATES CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE STUDENTS
So you've read through this post and may be wondering what I plan on doing with the Donor's Choose alternative seating I have. Don't worry, it will still be used in my classroom. I don't have as many choices as are seen in the picture above. Some of the items were worn out or just plain nasty. But, some of the bean bag chairs will be in our math centers, some of the ball chairs will be used at small group, or with particular students that need them.
The truth about alternative seating is it's not for everyone, and sometimes heading back to the basics are just as effective.