Jaylyn Fisher looked out on her classroom of 24 standard desks and chairs, which were probably older than she was, and wondered if there was a better way.
Actually, she knew there was. She remembered articles like this one, linking regular physical movement to better academics. And she thought about studies like this one, linking stability balls and flexible seating to improved focus in students. There was no doubt in Jaylyn’s mind that her fifth graders in Kenosha, Wisconsin, could benefit from flexible seating, too.
“Kids need regular movement,” Jaylyn says. “And flexible seating is a great way to give that to them.”
Ready for a change
Since she didn’t have the budget to redo all the seating in her classroom, Jaylyn put together a fundraising request online.
“Help me give my students a variety of seating options that promote collaboration, communication, and comfort!” she wrote. “With regular chairs, students are isolated from one another, and that does not allow for sharing and expressing great ideas! The stools, cushions, and table will allow my students to gather comfortably and be active problem solvers.”
Even though small donations trickled in here and there, it didn’t make much of a dent in her wish list. But then WeAreTeachers saw Jaylyn’s posting and called their friends at Moving Minds to see if they could help.
Moving Minds is a Minnesota company known for providing innovative solutions for building active classrooms, inclusive of active seating, standing desks, and collaborative work spaces. They had a perfect solution for Jaylyn’s classroom—one of their active classroom packs—so they arranged a special delivery.
A flexible seating makeover
The WeAreTeachers team arrived on a Friday afternoon when Jaylyn and her students were out of school. They completely switched out the traditional chairs in the classroom for Moving Minds stools, ball chairs, and other flexible seating from the classroom pack. Then they also added some TiltED seats and a SmartStudy Whiteboard Desk . They couldn’t wait to surprise Jaylyn and her students the following Monday. (You can watch the surprise in the video below.)
“It was like a Disney World kind of moment,” Jaylyn said. “I had kids peeking through the windows that morning, trying to catch a glimpse of the new seats. They couldn’t wait to get into class.”
While some of the other teachers expressed concern about Jaylyn’s all-in approach to flexible seating, she never looked back. On the first day, she set rules and guidelines with her kids. And since she uses a collaborative, group approach in her teaching, all the students would get to try out all the chairs.
“I’ve had almost no complaints, concerns, or issues,” she said. “The students really do love the seats and are thankful we have them. Some teachers thought I would have classroom management issues or behavior problems, but it’s actually reduced those things overall.”
Let kids move!
So how did flexible seating actually decrease classroom management challenges? In a few ways. For instance, Jaylyn said she has a couple of students in her class that don’t like to sit down. Since the beginning of the school year, they’ve always been up and about, moving around. But since the new flexible seating has come in, they move around less.
“These same kids who never liked to sit are now sitting,” Jaylyn said. “In turn, this has led to far fewer classroom disruptions, concerns, and even calls home. I know the flexible seating is a big reason why.”
Jaylyn knows not all teachers are ready to make a full-fledged switch like she did, but she really believes it can work well if students are prepared and expectations are clearly set. Plus, she’s never been one to shy away from trying something new, and she’s glad she was able to give her students this experience. In the grand scheme of things, it might seem like a small way to influence their overall learning, but she knows it’s made an impact.
“I consistently tell my students to do something every day to make the world a better place,” she said. “Therefore, I want to provide them with as many opportunities to spread their wings and fly on to middle school and beyond!”
P.S. We have some amazing news! Right now we’re giving away all of the flexible seating from Jaylyn’s classroom. Plus, entering takes just a few seconds. See how you can win a flexible seating makeover for your classroom!