Preferential Seating in a Flexible Learning Environment

This is the second in a series of posts drawing attention to the intersection of our students who receive special education services and the goal of the Visioning work of making public schools better for all Texas children.  All Texas children.

Consider the classroom pictured below.  In this traditional room with rows of desks, the preferential seating reserved for students with such accommodations most likely was in the front, nearest both the chalkboard and the teacher.  This decision may have unfortunately been made without consideration of the student, the class, the content, or the assignment for the day.  More often than not, this preferred seat may have been preferred by the teacher, not the student.  The decision to place the student whose accommodations included preferential seating in a seat nearby the teacher or within arms length rather than in the most ideal location based on the student’s needs and the learning objectives for the day is a potential opportunity lost.

classroom-2093743_1920

Now, consider a classroom with flexible seating, like the one pictured below.   What does preferential seating look like in this classroom?

I challenge you to consider preferential seating less as a specific, static location based on the physical classroom, and more as an appropriate learning environment for the student, based on the student’s specific learning needs in light of the learning experience he/she will undertake.

Add the variable of opportunity for students to move freely about the classroom, self-selecting the location and seating that best fits the learning experience they are facing. What does preferential seating look like now?  The answer is simple: Preferential seating is where the child will have the greatest opportunity to achieve profound learning.  

It is possible that preferential seating is not in a seat at all.

What if the preferred location for a student to learn is outside the classroom, capturing images in order to create content to share with the world?  What if the preferred location for a student to learn is outside the school building on a photo walk with classmates, documenting the impact of outside sources on their environment?  What if the preferred location for a student to learn is not in a desk within arms length of the teacher and the chalkboard?

I challenge you to consider (and re-consider) what preferential seating looks like in 2017 in schools in Texas.

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