Seating options vary in shape, height, material, texture and motion in Kerianne Loran’s first grade classroom at Marion W. Savage Elementary in Savage. And there are low and high tables that can easily be moved and combined in groups.
What you won’t see is rigid rows of school desks. Loran and other teachers want more flexible classroom furniture.
It’s an educational trend for many reasons, according to Principal Renee Brandner. Mainly, it supports student-centered, personalized learning by giving students a say in how and where they sit and who they work with.
“Students like being able to have a choice from among options,” said Brandner. “This keeps them engaged with learning.”
Flexible classroom furniture also encourages collaboration among students and builds the classroom community because it’s easy to move seats and tables around to make groups.
“Flexible seating allows students to pick their own learning environment,” said Loran, who has totally transformed her first grade classroom. “In addition to comfort and choice, flexible seating helps put responsibility in students' hands when they decide if the place they are working is where they can do their best work.”
Flexible furniture also aligns with what’s been added at the middle schools and Burnsville High School as part of Vision One91, the work to redesign the district to meet the needs of today’s learners.
Brandner thanked the PTO at her school for funding the new furniture. The PTO had money from past fundraising efforts and was looking for a more tangible and visible donation to make at Marion W. Savage.
“Requests for seating options were being made more and more by classroom staff to the school’s PTO,” said Pam Voigt, adviser to the PTO. Because this was a school need that fit with the PTO’s vision, a $21,000 donation was made to purchase flexible furniture and offer it to every interested classroom.