Step one: Start small. My first step in the free seating realm came when I decided to pull all personal items out of my student desks. I made every desk the same. There were no more name tags, and no more random gadgets and such laying around in the desks. Students came to their seats for checking in, but had never been bound to them. This idea could be a step in it’s own. Let go of the order in everyone sitting. I guarantee there’s at least one kiddo who would be more comfortable on the floor…let them do it! Sitting somewhere besides the desk might encourage a student or two to want to learn more!
Step two: Start with an expectation. Before jumping off the cliff, have your expectations in place. What do you expect when your students start choosing their own seats? What classroom management will you have ready for those that need guidance along the way. One strategy I had at the beginning of the year was seating arrangements. Students would come in and I would share how we would sit for the day. For example, “Sit next to someone with your birthday month.” “Sit boy/girl.” “Sit by someone who’s wearing the same color as you.” These were all great opportunities for the kids to move around and get to know each other. This was also a great opportunity for the kids to find out who they worked best with. Who could they sit next to and stay focused next to? Who was not a good option to sit next to because of distractions? This was all learning observations they made on their own. Our classroom discussions were about taking that information and applying it to a successful school day.
Step three: Just jump! You’ve got your expectations. You’ve cleared out your desks. Open the floodgates. Your kids will be so surprised when you share that they get to choose their own seating. The first attempt may be a bit of an “OMG” moment, but in the end, it pays off.
I love that my kids are able to sit wherever in my classroom. They get along with each other and the classroom community is solid. They know who not to sit by and I am not the person telling them so. They tell themselves. It’s a wonderful change that I don’t ever see myself going back to the way it was.
Give it a try and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you!
What do you think of the free-seating idea? Would it work for your class(es)? Let us know in the comments.