When Mirinda Roberts' first graders arrive at Helke Elementary School each morning, they have more than school work on their minds. These students are among many in the district who are now deciding on what kind of seating they will use as teachers are adopting flexible seating choices in their classrooms.
"Each day every student will be able to choose what seat works best for them. The goal is to have students more comfortable so they learn better," Roberts said.
The research supports that idea, saying flexible seating burns more calories, uses up excess energy, improves metabolism and increases motivation and engagement. Seating options range from regular desks to stools, to pillows, to bean bags, to scoop rockers and many more child-sized choices.
Third grade teacher Chad Arnett says allowing students to think independently also increases productivity in the classroom.
"I really wanted my students to have more of a say in their own learning, more choice. What I am most happy about so far is how calm all the students are while they are working," Arnett said.
Roberts, Arnett and other teachers using the flexible seating approach needed financial help to make their dream a reality. Arnett says he raised money through Donors Choose, using social media to share his ideas and his requests.
"Amazingly, thanks to my friends and family, I was able to raise the full $915 in five days. My final donation come from the number seller on Teachers Pay Teachers, Deanna Jump!" Arnett said.
Roberts worked with fellow Helke first grade teacher Amy Heis. They received $100 from Target, $150 from Walmart, bean bags from Walmart and money from a Donors Choose site.
While it's still early in the year, teachers say the kids are adjusting to and enjoying the new options.
"The students are so excited to have such a different learning environment. I can't wait to see how it all goes once all the routines are in place," Roberts said.