For educators considering the adoption of flexible seating arrangements, Edutopia has gathered tips and photos from a mix of English, history and foreign language teachers in Alabama, Texas, Michigan and California.
Among the common themes are sofas, rugs, coffee tables, makeshift device-charging stations, modular seating like beanbags or folding chairs, and casual decor appealing to subject matter and student or teacher interests.
The four educators say the switch has resulted in improvements to discipline, attendance, performance and engagement, though at least one noted that the change was potentially more difficult in a high school setting than for lower grades since many flexible seating examples have been designed "for little kids with little bodies."
Schools are moving beyond the industrialized model of public education utilized over the last century to better prepare students for an evolving workforce where the jobs a high school diploma would have previously prepared them for are being made obsolete by automation and other technological innovations. Modern workplaces have embraced open floor plans, collaboration and creativity, and many educators have sought to reflect that environment in their classrooms.
Research has shown benefits for these arrangements beyond workforce prep, with standing desks resulting in increased engagement among 12% of students and a 7% increase in neurocognitive function after continued use for 27 weeks. Providing students with a variety of seating options can also be a critical step in personalizing their learning experiences, allowing them the option of taking in curriculum and completing assignments in the setting most comfortable for them.