Over the last few years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve seen an increase in what I consider ‘faddish’ types of pedagogy and or practice. I’m going to tell you that I think alternative seating falls into that category. I am an advocate of alternative seating. Let me tell you how.
Boys and girls…come to the carpet.
Boys and girls…get into pairs somewhere in the room to work.
Boys and girls…let’s do our DEAR time outside.
You know what each of those examples were? ALTERNATIVE SEATING.
You know how long teachers have been doing alternative seating? FOR EVER. It’s not new. It’s old.
You know what IS new? Doing it with cute Pinteresty DIY projects, couches from the thrift store, Rubbermaid tubs that folks cut the tops off of to let kids sit inside and still have an area to write on. Trying to make our classroom look like a house or a coffee shop. These are the things that are ‘new’.
Let me tell you, after 20 years of teaching…I can tell you that your students will still learn without all the bells and whistles that you see out there. Simplifying and streamlining my practice over the years has taught me that sometimes, less is more. This is not to say that if you want to have nice things in your classroom you shouldn’t. Go ahead and do them! Your students will appreciate the touches in the room that are uniquely you! I’m just saying if you are a newer teacher, or a teacher without the means or the time to try to put together grant proposals, you can still teach.
Do NOT buy into to the FOMO that is occurring in our profession. If you don’t have the money or the time..your kids can still learn. Love and consistency still works with kids of all ages and all demographics. Majoring on how to build relationships never gets old, and always helps kids to feel more connected to you and what you’re trying to convey.
One of the things that I think is not as clear as it should be with these types of concepts is that your management has to be really strong. The more autonomy you give your students, the better you have to be at setting up procedures and being consistent with them. It took me YEARS to feel like a ‘good manager’. I think that’s true of a lot of teachers.
I think another thing that is not emphasized enough is that these types of ideas are not for every type of student. Just like desks and chairs may not be for all students either. At the end of the day though, no student is going to be asked to sit on a yoga ball while doing a job interview, but they will need to learn how to sit in a chair and talk without showing their nerves.
There are lots of ways that we can give kids autonomy and choice without changing the furniture. The bottom line is those kids are going to be taking standardized tests in sterile environments where they all have the same seats. Kids have to get used to the fact that they have to perform important tasks in settings that may or may not suit them.
So, what are some things that I have done with students to keep the learning engaging and help students who need more movement participate in a more tangible way?
- Gardening – This is a great tie in with science standards and a great way for students to do something tactile.
- Building Things – We’ve done several different types of projects where the students worked in pairs or even individually to complete engineering tasks for STEM. The students really enjoyed this and often I had to allot MORE time for them to work.
- Set Fitness Goals – If you ask your students who the fastest kid is they will know. They always know. Setting physical goals for them are a great way to help them work towards something that will burn off some of that energy.
- Talent Shows – Kids love to show off what they can do. There’s nothing like hearing little folks play the flute, or sing a song!
- Genius Bar – This is a great way to have kids become an expert at something and share it with their peers. I love watching my students teach each other something that they are passionate about.
These are just a few examples that came to mind. There are plenty of others out there that I will be exploring for my learners this year! Remember, good teaching starts with love and your standards. Loving your kids and building relationships is the lasting impact that will make a difference in your students’ lives.
Looking for ideas on how to increase student autonomy and choice? You might be interested in my personalized learning Pinterest board! 🙂