Name: Susie Buell
Job Title: 2-3 Teacher
School Location: Sundance ES/San Diego, CA
How did you design your classroom? What prompted you to want to arrange your room this way?
Currently, I have six tables for student seating with four students at each table. They share supplies (a circular, rotating bin that houses scissors, glue sticks, pencils, and highlighters). Each student has a chair pocket to hold subject folders, interactive journals, and a personal reading book. These tables are the centered in the back half of our classroom. A carpet with 30 individual spots is the focus of the front half of the room, with my teacher chair and small easel located right next to it for read-alouds, etc. Since there are no desks, classroom textbooks are stored in crates, spaced out between book bins in our class library, which is at the front of the room, right under full length whiteboard. We also have alternative seating in that we have four bean bags, 12 scoop rockers, five laundry baskets, four yoga mats, and six seat cushions. I have a horseshoe table at the back for small groups. There is an additional table for our two classroom laptops, as well as a lowered round table for individual or small group work. Kids sit on the floor when accessing this table.
I designed it this way to make the alternative seating easier. It is easier to push six group tables aside, if necessary, as opposed to moving 24 individual desks. It allows for easier group work when the students are seated, as everyone has an immediate face or shoulder partner. Collaborating is simpler. However, I am just coming to understand the difference between alternative seating and flexible seating. I am hoping to move to more authentic flexible seating this year, using the tables less and pushing some of them to the perimeter of the classroom. This would allow for more floor space for the flexible seating. I have also purchased some pilates balls with floor stands to replace some of the chairs.
What are some of the important spaces in your room? What are your favorite parts of the room? What are your students’ favorite parts of the room?
Important spaces are the horseshoe table for small group work and the open spaces for alternative seating. The rug area is not only an important space, but one of my favorites. They kids’ favorites include getting to choose an alternative place to work.
Do your students have assigned seats? Do you rotate stations? Do students have free reign of where to go in the room?
Currently, they have assigned seats, but I change the seating arrangement every 4-6 weeks. During Independent work time, they can change to one of the alternative seating options, if they would like.
Have you always arranged your room this way? Have you slowly moved to this design? Have you noticed a mood change in your classroom or what are you expecting to change with this setup?
The current way described is the way I have always done it, other than adding more alternative seating options. I started with the bean bags and laundry baskets in 2013-14, then added the yoga mats and seat cushions in the next year. This year, I added the scoop rockers. Kids love using the alternative seating and work to remain focused, as they know if they don’t make good choices, I get to choose their seat. It promotes responsibility.
Where did you get the materials for your room?
Amazon, Walmart, and Target (a teacher’s favorite bookmarks)!
What else should we know about your classroom?
Kids from other classrooms LOVE to come to our room, as most other rooms on our campus are set up in the traditional manner: individual desks and very little to no alternative seating. We work hard to become a family - a community - where everyone feels safe, welcome, and at home. When everyone can be their authentic self, we work and get along more effectively.
Can we see more from you on social media or Teachers pay Teachers?
My only active social media account right now is IG - mrsbuellsroom. I use TPT, but only as a buyer. Hoping to change that soon. :)