To help her students learn to work together and build community, Hamblen Elementary teacher Mariah Ochoa has made it easy for them to just pull up a seat.
A grant from the SPS Foundation allowed her to purchase a number of lightweight stacking stools. Her first graders know that they can just grab one any time they are in math or reading centers and want to sit together to work with a partner.
“This helps them develop the social aspects of working together,” she said. “It’s a skill you need to have in any profession.”
Besides the stools, Ochoa offers her students an array of seating choices and accoutrements: rocking chairs, bouncy bands, wobble stools, and plastic seat cushions. These all allow students to bounce or wiggle while they work, without disrupting others. Her classroom also has low, portable tables for working together on the floor, or to create a standing desk.
“Whatever a kid needs,” she said.
The benefits have not gone unnoticed by the students. They talked about it as a class and agreed that the rocking chairs help them think better and focus more, and help them calm down. Students said they like how the stools allow them to work together.
“This has helped me meet the needs of all my learners,” Ochoa said. “It’s worked.”