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1.11.2017 | Josephine Lister |

Could Cafe Culture Hold The Secret To Better Classroom Design?

Coffee shops are filled with people hunched over laptops, typing away. Some sit at desks, others work off their laps sinking into comfy armchairs. We all like to work in different positions, which is what teacher Kayla Delzer realized in Starbucks one day, so why are our classrooms laid out in such a way as to limit the choice for students?

Being an adult is pretty great isn’t it? Sure we have bills and personal finances to worry about, but just remember for a second what it was like being a kid. Every decision was made for you. Want some chocolate? Only if your mum and dad said yes. Want to chat to your mate? You’ve got to wait for the bell to ring, right now you have to sit with your legs crossed with your finger to your lips as the teacher waits for everyone to be silent.

When you're an adult you get a level of freedom that you just don’t get when you're a kid, which is what occurred to Kayla Delzer as she sat in Starbucks one day noticing all the people sat in different positions working on their laptops. Some preferred the cosy wide armchairs, snuggling into the cushions, others preferred to sit upright with a proper desk.

Delzer realized that children in contrast are very rarely offered the simple choice of how to work. They don’t get to choose who they sit next to or where they sit, instead they are forced to work in a certain place for hours. Delzer used her Starbucks realization to revolutionize her second grade classroom by simply providing her students with choice.

She considerately created a classroom where students were at the centre of the design with different carefully crafted zones. Unnecessary furniture was removed and a wide variety of tables and seating brought in. The effect was to create a dynamic environment where students were free to choose their own seats.

The design included an open area for whole class teaching, mats and clipboards so students could work on the floor, low tables with cushions and tall standing desks – students could even choose to sit on exercise balls at a table! With no seating chart, students were able to choose where they sat and for how long. Delzer discovered that some of her students needed to move a few times during a lesson whereas others preferred to stay where they were.

As a result of the flexible classroom, Delzer has seen an increase in collaboration, motivation and engagement. The children are excited to come to school and have a love of learning. Distraction has reduced and test scores even seem to be up! With the classroom design a resounding success the design became a mainstay, and Delzer's new cohort of students each year find themselves in a classroom designed to suit their needs. At the start of each year Delzer has her students try out all of the different areas so they can discover which kind of seating suits them best.

We often talk about personalization in terms of what content we teach children, but it’s important that this is incorporated into the structure of a classroom too. We all learn better when we’re comfortable and with Flexible Seating we’ve found a way to make the classroom a much more cosy, comfortable experience – an ideal place to learn and play as it grows chillier outside.

Find out more about how to successfully implement Flexible Seating where you are by heading to the project page, and let’s create classrooms all over the world that children can’t wait to get into!