Classroom meets comfort

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After having a few alternative options to traditional desks scattered across his room over the past few years, history teacher Jeff Crowe decided to make the switch this year to a flexible seating structure, in which students have the option to sit on furniture more closely resembling a family room than a classroom.

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few flexible seating options and the kids seem to have gravitated to if there’s a comfortable chair in the room, or somewhere that’s a little bit non conventional,” Crowe said. “Over the summer, I read an article about flexible seating, and there was data to support the introduction of different options to help kids learn better, because not all the kids all kids learn in the same way, but really, the data also showed that when kids are more comfortable, just like adults, and they have the option to move, they seem to do better and learn better and retain more, so there’s also kind of an instructional purpose for it.”

When students first walked into Crowe’s redesigned room, many were initially taken aback but eager to see how the environment would influence the structure of the class.

“I was surprised and I questioned him about it and he said it was something new he was trying so I was up for it,” sophomore Gabriella Salazar said. “I think it’s really cool because it offers students a different perspective, not only of the room, but if they’re just not feeling a traditional seat that day, they’re allowed to sit in really cool chairs or bar stools.”     

Crowe hopes to create a relaxed ambiance that boosts the comfort of his room and ensures an enjoyable experience for students in his class.

“It’s made it a little bit more laid back, a little bit more casual. I think the comfort level that the kids have in my room is higher,” Crowe said. “It’s just more of a low key when a casual bookstore, coffee house kind of vibe and the kids seem to really, really enjoyed it.”

Sophomore Olivia O’Brien finds the organization of the room refreshing compared to other classroom structures.

“I like it just because it’s different and it’s a new way to learn so that you’re in a comfortable environment but not too comfortable to where you won’t learn just comfortable enough that you can learn the material better,” O’Brien said. “Instead of sitting in those normal seats that are sometimes crowded, depending on who you are, Mr. Crowe has couches that you can sit on, and chairs you can sit all around, so it just spruces up your day.”  

Ultimately, Crowe believes the flexible seating options provide students with a rewarding incentive for their hard work in class.

“The kids sit in these plastic, black heart chairs eight hours a day, five days a week, so it’s nice to have something that’s a little bit different,” Crowe said. “They have a choice, but as long as long as they’re doing well, as long as they’re being successful with that choice. So there’s kind of almost an incentive for them to stay on task and complete their work because they know the option is the other option is if they’re not, then I’ll assign their seat for them.”