Local middle school offers flexible seating to some students

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Sofas, dining tables, and comfy chairs sound like pieces of furniture found in a cafe, but one middle school brought them to the classroom.

A handful of teachers at Merritt Brown Middle School decided to introduce "flexible learning" to their classrooms.

"Actually, other teachers at the school, they came back from a conference where they had gone to some good workshops on flexible seating and we were just talking about it and it took off from there," Anne Johnson, an eighth grade Language Arts teacher, said.

Students in these classrooms have the option of sitting in beanbag chairs, at dining room tables, or on sofas.

"I sit back there at one of the tables, but if you're someone who likes to learn more comfortably, like when I'm at home and I'm studying, I'm sitting in my bed, so that's going to be more comfortable than a desk," Jaden Jennings, one of Ms. Johnson's students, said.

While she prefers sitting at a table, she said the classroom conforms to individuals' tastes.

"For me, I didn't like the idea of it being so relaxed because I like desks, you sit in a desk, but this kind of puts me out of my comfort zone a little bit, but it puts me out of my comfort zone in a type of situation where it's safe," she said.

Faculty members said they have seen benefits from the more open seating.

"I have a few that are assigned to seats, but they want to work their way out of it and we don't have as many tardies, you know, it's cut down on a lot of discipline problems that we've had," Johnson said.

Charlotte Marshall, Merritt Brown's principal, also noted the flexible seating has improved attendance because students have their choice in seat, meaning they have to get to class on time to get their favorite seat.