National News

Unconventional classrooms prioritizing student comfort

Posted May 17, 2018 10:45 a.m. EDT

— With new technology and research constantly emerging, classrooms are quickly evolving. Some teachers, like Josh King, are now embracing a different approach that puts the power of how his sixth graders learn into their hands.

Mr. King's eclectic classroom has a spot where everyone can feel comfortable.

"The textbooks have changed, the work has changed, the different learning styles and the way we do things has definitely changed. Technology has changed," said Mr. King. "But our desk and chair really hasn't changed."

Earlier in the school year, Josh King was inspired to turn away from tradition and make his sixth grade classroom a more inviting environment for his students.

"I find what works and what doesn't work and it's all about being flexible," said King.

He set out to do it through 'flexible seating,' following examples of teachers all over the country who are ditching the desks.

"They want to be up. They want to be moving around," said King. "They don't want to be sitting in one sport for hours on end."

Research shows that when students choose the type of seat they learn in, they stay more engaged.

"Usually when I'm at a desk it's uncomfortable or it's hard for me to get comfortable," said sixth grader Mason Brassfield. "And it's not easy for me to focus cause I get distracted really easily."

To get an idea of how to get his students in their best element, Mr. King asked his sixth graders to imagine how they get their homework done at home.

"A lot of them said 'I work on the floor' or 'I work on the bed' or 'I work on the couch," said King.

So he took to the classroom funding website 'Donor's Choose.'

Thanks in part to a donation from Chevron's 'Fuel Your School' program, Mr. King was able to roll out new seating options in his classroom to meet his students very different needs.

"I feel like I can see better to the front and I can focus more on what I am learning," said sixth grader Kayla Leyendecker. "It helps me see the smart board better and it just helps me see everything around me better."

"When I'm sitting at the camping chairs it's a bigger seat so I just have more room to be comfortable," said sixth grader Lexi Cobean.

The flexible seating has given Jimmy the freedom to not have to sit still.

But Mr. King says he initially questioned whether some students were doing more lounging than learning.

"I took a step back and realized he is still doing exactly what he needs to be doing. He's reading. He's working on his Chrome Book and following directions. But he might be doing it on his back or his stomach," said King. "He's getting his work and still learning. He is not a distraction. I think that's been pretty cool to see because it's very different. You don't see that in a lot of different classes."

The seating trend in education has promised better engagement and Mr. King and his students will tell you, it's working.

"It helps you get to know yourself and where you are most comfortable learning," said Leyendecker.

"They are willing to have a better attitude towards it. I think that's what made a huge difference is that the attitude has changed," said King.

The new seating has synced up class mates and allowed them to find friends that learn just like them.

"It's pretty amazing to see especially when they are doing group assignments or even brainstorming or talking about their projects," said King. "They were helping each other and showing examples and guiding each other. Within the group they are able to help the people that are with them tha tare king of learning like them."

The set up is so successful, Mr. King is looking to add in even more variety. He recently received another donation from Google, a company famous for their unconventional office setup.

"It's just different and it's okay to be different," said King."If I can motivate them and I can encourage them and the best way that I can and this is just one way of doing it then I will."