Flex seating takes over Alcoa Elementary, raises student performance

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Young students at Alcoa Elementary will no longer have to hear their teachers tell them to '"sit still." This year, the school is embracing the art of fidgeting in class.

“My rule is as long as you can learn effectively that way, that’s the way you can sit," said Bridget Young, a first grade teacher at Alcoa Elementary.

This mentality along with inspiration from Pinterest led Young to create a "flexible seating" classroom for her first graders. The idea is, embrace the fact that young children need to move around and offer them seats that allow them to do so. 

“We have kids in laundry baskets with pillows and blankets curled up reading books," Principal Monique Maples said. “They’ve got wobble stools they can wobble on, bouncy balls they can bounce on. I’m sitting on one right now!" 

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Maples keeps a bouncy ball chair at her desk. She believes the ability to move while you work benefits adults as much as children. 

Jennifer Kelly, another teacher at the school, agrees. 

“When we have planning session, when our team plans…we usually go straight for the wobble stools!" Kelly said. 

After Young started the trend at the school in 2016, many teachers have added more seating options to their rooms, which Principal Maples was happy to help facilitate. 

“Research shows academically that it really does help them out," Maples said. 

The principal also suggests that flex seating, while it can help students focus, is just one new part in the complex process of elementary education. 

“Flexible seating is one more tool in the tool box for kids to help them focus academically," she said. 

Thanks to grants, generous parents, and teachers spending out-of-pocket -- Alcoa Elementary is able to offer flex seating for all grades in the 2017-2018 school year.