Flexible seating is a new and exciting trend in education, but, by the nature of this trend, there are a lot of options and a lot of open suggestions for implementing flexible furniture in classroom layouts. Studies on flexible seating suggest that the layout can help students learn, but each task is best suited to a different layout. For individual tasks, such as exams or lectures, both educators and researchers say that rows work best.
Setting up a flexible classroom can be fun and easy, but it can also be a challenge to determine the difference between an effective classroom layout and a simply modern layout that you’ll probably end up regretting.
Luckily, desks and chairs that maximise the benefits of a flexible classroom are specifically designed to accommodate different teaching and learning styles simply by rearranging them. Here are three research-based ways to design a flexible classroom.
Choose collaborative, dual-use desks and tables
Given the advantages of structured and flexible classroom design, it can be difficult to decide how best to organise students. However, with lightweight collaborative tables, educators can have the best of both worlds. Using tables and desks that fit together is a great way to group students together for activities or to separate them when they are having too much fun.
For early learning environments, crescent-shaped tables such as YANG are ideal for allowing students to develop social skills throughout the day in small groups, while having the ability to create larger group tables for classroom activities. For primary and secondary students, the HEXA table provides individual desk space that can be combined with the TRISIX to form small and large groups, allowing students to become used to more focused tasks such as exams or listening to lectures without immediately eliminating the comfort of tablemates.
In secondary classrooms, keeping desks in a row is even more important during exams, but letting students choose where their desk goes for the rest of the class gives them the daily opportunity to make responsible decisions and helps them learn to manage their educational needs, two skills they will need as adults. OCTA trapezoidal tables and MIA TABLE mobile table top chairs work perfectly as individual desks arranged in rows. Thanks to their castors, pupils can set them up in pairs or any other group formation in a matter of seconds.
Most MIRPLAY School tables have comfortable, height-adjustable legs to suit all pupils. Optional castor tables make it easier for students to move around and have brakes to prevent unwanted movement.
When teachers ask students to move their desks, it not only gives them a sense of ownership of a task, but also saves the teacher from having to spend time rearranging the classroom.
MOVE stands and ELEA acoustic dividers with storage allow students to keep materials close at hand regardless of where they place their desks. Using flexible tables means that classrooms can always be a few minutes away from transforming to perfectly suit both individual and group activities.
Offer students alternative seating options
Energetic learners are exciting, fun and sometimes… challenging. Flexible seating in the classroom helps manage students’ energy and is another important step in creating a flexible learning environment that adapts to the needs of each student. The JON rocking stool is ideal for active learners, regardless of their size, and the rolling chairs allow students to move around while thinking without getting in the way.
Soft seating, such as pouffes and modular sofas, are a great addition to flexible classrooms. Browse our catalogue of sofa options to help you find seating that fits your ideal classroom design.
Alternatives to traditional chairs allow students to burn off energy without leaving their desks. Flexible seating in the classroom is a simple way to allow students to have some control over their learning environment, making them feel that their opinions and preferences are valued.
Establish distinct and separate areas within the classroom.
Creating multiple spaces in a classroom not only encourages activities such as reading and drawing, but also provides more areas for students to learn and interact. Dividing a classroom brings a lot of flexibility to the learning environment.
Room dividers are a simple option that can reduce noise to and from separate groups. A double-sided movable whiteboard can also serve as a room divider, but with the added benefit of leaving space for notes on ongoing lessons, student ideas and collaboration. However, dividers are not necessary for flexible classrooms to succeed. With only one corner of the room, unique spaces are more than possible.
Art-focused areas make it easy to clean up and give students something to do when they finish their work early. Adding a table with storage space is a good way to keep materials organised and provides a space for fun crafts.
Reading nooks can be equipped with soft seating that pupils can use to sit, lean or lie down while they immerse themselves in a new story. A wrap-around armchair such as the CHARLOTTE design easily marks the entrance to a new space within the same classroom, while pouffes and floor cushions offer a relaxing reading experience. A cosy sitting area combined with a colourful rug and curved bookcase can make students look forward to curling up with a good book.
Study nooks can help advanced students continue learning or provide a quiet space for others to practise some more. Study cubbies are perfectly designed for concentrating on reading or using a device to do exercises on the internet. A mobile book trolley can be a handy place to store reading material or electronics, such as headphones for listening activities.