Flexible seating

Flexible seating is equitable universal design. The nine principles guiding Universal Design for Instruction are: 1) equitable use, 2) flexibility in use, 3) simple and intuitive, 4) perceptible information, 5) tolerance for error, 6) low physical effort, 7) size and space for approach, 8) a community of learners, 9) instructional climate.

[Scott, Shaw, and McGuire, 2001]

Get started!

First, remove your teacher desk or repurpose it. I turned mine into a coffee and snack station - the mini fridge went underneath and the microwave and Keurig went on top.

Second, determine how students will need to use the space.

Third, rearrange and then continually reassess. Get feedback from the students. Sit in all the areas of the classroom. Make changes and get new furniture as needed.

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Shaw, S.F. (2001). Principles of Universal Design for Instruction. Storrs: University of Connecticut, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability.


Know what your intentions for the space and groups are.

Choose different types of spaces - heights, seating, surfaces - for different purposes and outcomes.

Especially for younger students, create deliberate groupings rather than solely free choice.

Never be afraid to readjust the room arrangement - get feedback on it from your students.

photo courtesy of Chisato Uyeki
photo courtesy of Natasha Graham
photo courtesy of Larissa Wright-Elson


In the photos above you see examples of intentionally purchased furniture for flexible seating, relocated furniture from a school district warehouse, and social media crowdsourced furniture.

Check out Funding Your Flexible Classroom and Flexible Classrooms: Assembly Required from Edutopia for more on how to acquire or assemble what you need to meet the learning goals for your students.