Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Flexible Seating Procedures

I have been asked by many readers how I set up my flexible seating. I wanted to share my plans and procedures for implementing our seating plan for the start of the next school year. This differs slightly from how I implemented flexible seating in the past, because last year I started the plan in January.  I have planned and mapped out my procedures and I hope you will find the following information helpful! You can download the procedures and resources for free in my TpT store.

First things first... many teachers asked if the seating should be rolled out slowly or all at once. In the past I rolled it out slowly (basically when I purchased something and brought it in, we used it). So items came into the classroom in stages. This led to the novelty effect. The newest choice was always the most popular and it took time for me, and the students, to discover which seating was a best fit for the student, and/or activity. For the coming school year I will implement all of the choices within the first few days.

Expectations Anchor Chart

Before school begins, I will make sure to have my Flexible Seating Chart hung up and ready. I refer to this chart EACH and EVERY time the students select a seat (which means multiple times a day). Not until I know the students are very capable of following the expectations, do I skip this part.

Here is a printed version.  The hand drawn version of the expectations chart is below...

Preparing the Room

 I then make sure I have all of my seating ready for my students. I think about the ease of moving around the room. I consider the best spots for yoga balls, low tables, etc. For more information on the specific seating I use in my classroom check out the Flexible Seating Tab to check out my previous posts. I prepare caddies and pencil jars so each workspace has easily accessible supplies. I am a firm believer in no time wasted, and having a plan in place for supplies is key! I use community supplies in my classroom. Not only does it work better for flexible seating, but it also can help students with taking responsibility and problem solving skills. 

For the few personal items my students need (writing journal, work folder, interactive notebook, etc.) I have used bins in the past. I used my carpet rows as my classroom groups, and put 4 group bins around the classroom to avoid traffic jams. I ran into a few problems with this. The first problem being some of my little lovelies did not put papers in the folders neatly. Although it was a cosmetic problem, I didn't like seeing the papers hanging out of the folders. The other problem was the bins would tip over occasionally. I have decided to implement a plastic drawer system in its place this year. This way it will look neater and stay more organized.

I will have 6-8 drawer bins around the classroom. The drawers will be labeled with each student's name. It will house their folders, journals, and maybe a box of crayons. As soon as I find the bins I am envisioning I will post a picture. 

UPDATE… I found them! I purchased three drawer towers that fit my colorful classroom perfectly. Each child will get a drawer and it will be labeled with their name. They came from OfficeMax and I think they are perfect! 

Planning Out Procedures

I created a list of procedures to teach starting from Day 1. Check them out below. Remember, you can download these resources for free from my store

"Model, student example, non-example, example" is how I usually teach any procedure. I show the students the correct way to work in the spot. Then I pick a student model the correct way, then show us the wrong way (this usually gets very silly, but the students are engaged), then the student fixes the problems and shows us the correct way to use the workspace again. Based on time available, you can pick an additional student, or a group of students to repeat the procedure. 

Unwritten "rules" are expectations that need to be taught explicitly. Most of these unwritten rules came about through trial and error as we rolled it out last year. 

Where it says "chart" I will take an opportunity to make a quick chart for each seating area once we have discussed the workspace and modeled the expectations. The students will help brainstorm how working in that particular space will look. Try to avoid "no" statements as always. :) For example write "small bounces" instead of "no big bounces" on the yoga balls.  

This procedures list may look daunting, but the more time spent carefully and explicitly teaching these procedures, the less time you will have to take to correct behavior later! TRUST ME! :)

I also have a Procedures tips page with helpful information included. Check it out below!


The next step is building stamina. Perfect practice makes perfect!

With my class I will start with the one minute increment stamina chart to 20 minutes. Some classes may prefer the 40 minute version.

As we are learning the procedures, one activity I will have my students complete is this flexible seating mini book. It will be great for reviewing the expectations while the students are seated in workspaces. It works as a "double-duty" assignment!

Make sure to grab all of the recourses here!

If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. I would love to hear how your flexible seating preparations are going!

To see flexible seating in action check out my Classroom Website here.

Happy Teaching!



  1. I love this post! I had a couple questions though. I teach kindergarten and am very interested in implementing flexible seating in my classroom. I really think it would make learning more fun of them. Would you recommend that I start the year out with the flexible seating or should i start out with assigned seats at regular desks and slowly implement different types of seating?

  2. Where did you find the yoga balls? I am thinking of using small rugs or mats for students to be able to move around the room and still have a comfy spot. Thanks for all your hard work in developing these resources! They are wonderful!

    1. Rugs and mats are a great idea! It is a wonderful way to define "their" spot. I found the yoga balls through Amazon. Here is the link:
      Let me know if you have any more questions! :)

  3. How do you do a whole group lesson, for example science or social studies where cutting as a class may be needed as part of the activity?