Breaking Tradition

Samuel Rivera, Reporter

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On January 25th, Madeline Persin had her life skills class filmed by a KION 5/46 journalist for it to be covered as the news program’s February Special Report.

Persin, a life skills teacher, was visited by one of her friends from her high school one Friday. Now, after pursuing a career in journalism, he covered how Persin implemented “flexible seating” in her classroom.

Flexible seating is a class arrangement which allows students to choose where and how to sit. While traditional classrooms usually use desks, not every student is in his or her optimal, physical state to learn or perform tasks that require focus. This issue may be especially prevalent for people with mental challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Persin realized that some of her students in the Life Skills class had difficulty focusing in a regular desks which restricts physical movement that students may need to help them focus.

“I want to allow students the freedom to learn in a way that is best suitable to their body and needs,” explained Persin. “This means we don’t have many traditional desks because it is very constricting for my students and instead we offer chairs, stools, wobbly seats, bean bag chairs, and floor pillows in order to accomodate the many sensory and physical needs in the room.”

In the field of education, there have been many attempts to improve the quality of learning for students. However, most classrooms have continued to use tradition desks or tables to seat their students.

“Every student learns differently and we need to recognize that,” Persin stated. “Especially in my room, students need to rock, twist, or lean in order to satisfy a sensory need and be able to focus.”

It’s not only the Life Skills class that may benefit from flexible seating; it is very common to see students from many classes struggling to focus because their minds and bodies are restless.

Persin has found that flexible seating is very helpful for her students. She has noticed a reduction in inappropriate behavior as well as an increase in focus in her Life Skills class.

Perhaps Persin’s methods of helping her students learn could be applied on a larger scale. Although there may not be many changes to the majority of seating arrangements, maybe in the near future flexible seating will become the new norm.

Nevertheless, it is exciting how Persin’s methods of helping her students has caught the attention of others. Hopefully this attention assists other teachers in understanding ways that they can help their students engage in class.