Bean Bags and Books

Mrs. Hardy introduces flexible seating to her classroom as part of her Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers win.

Anthony Blankenship and Ella Birgen sit at the dining table working on Membean at the start of first hour English.

Laura Hardy

Anthony Blankenship and Ella Birgen sit at the dining table working on Membean at the start of first hour English.

Natalie Roberts, Staff

Last November, Mrs. Hardy was excited to hear the news.  She had been selected as one of the winners of the Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers, winning a whopping $5000 to spend on her classroom.  Then reality set in and she had to decide how to spend that money.

“I wasn’t sure at first and did a lot of research about flexible seating and asked around about the idea before deciding to give it a try.” said Hardy.  Flexible seating is where a classroom is setup more like a home or a coffee shop than a typical classroom.  Mrs. Hardy’s room includes sofas, club chairs, patio furniture, a dining table set, floor pillows and bean bags among some more traditional seating of desks and tables with rolling chairs.

Mer Chandler sits in a club chair in the corner of the room preparing for the lesson in freshmen English.

“My hope is that this will be a student-friendly environment where I can help facilitate student-driven learning.” said Hardy.  The experiment, though, hasn’t come without challenges.

“Not only putting all the furniture together, which several of my amazing students helped to do over break, but hours planning and then trying to figure out how to make it work and not become a nap-fest or break into chaos in the classroom” have been some of the difficult parts of creating this new environment.  But the payoff seems to be worth it.  “So far, most of my classes have adapted to it really well and enjoy the freedom of the seating.  It seems like they are doing fine with staying on task so far.”

Photo By Laura Hardy
Savannah Eddy, Sophie Banks, Ava Winstock, and Aaron Smith lounge on bean bags as they do their classwork.

What do the students think about it?  “Oh my gosh.  This is awesome.” said Ryan Weaver upon entering his 7th hour English class on the first day back from Winter break.

While most students love the idea, it will take some getting used to for both the students and Mrs. Hardy.  Mrs. Hardy also explains that she spent some of her Fiesta money on books for more independent reading and technology to help her classroom run more smoothly.

“Overall, I just feel really lucky and grateful to have had the chance and support to try this out and see what happens,” said Hardy.