I am happy to say that this will be my 3rd year teaching roughly 20 first graders in an urban district in Virginia! I teach in a Title 1 school, which means that my school serves the highest percentage of children from low-income families. My school also serves children who have experienced some kind of trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, violence, or challenging household circumstances.
With this being said, I know the absolute importance of a positive environment that my children so desperately need, which is what I strive to provide each and every day.
My students can be set off by a number of various things, such as a loud noise in the classroom resembling a gun shot that they heard as they tried to sleep the night before. In situations such as these, I want to provide a safe place for my students to come and learn, while also building a sense of community together and reaching academic goals.
A big part of having students feel safe and secure in my classroom is showing them that they are part of a classroom community that allows for independence, as well as flexibility in the learning process. Many of my students are not able to make choices for themselves at home, so allowing them the opportunity to take control of their learning, such as choosing where they want to sit for that day, empowers them in such an amazing way. Therefore, I want to incorporate exercise balls, beanbags, swivel chairs, wobble cushions or chairs, and standing tables into the classroom.
I believe that having flexible seating in my classroom will allow those students who struggle with coping skills to self-regulate by having the opportunity to sit on a chair that wobbles, and also soothes, while learning is taking place as well.
Giving them the option to sit on an exercise ball to take their mind off of another negative experience and allow them the time they need to refocus themselves is another great opportunity. This will, of course, also help students who struggle with ADHD, which is a large percentage of my students each year, keep their bodies active in a way that still allows them to receive the instruction and retain the information that is being taught. Young children are naturally more rambunctious and need a way to channel all that energy in a positive way; I believe that flexible seating in my classroom will be the perfect way to do so, while also keeping kids engaged!
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