OHS pilots new approach to traditional classrooms

Students in Miss. Betzs classroom sit on the new chairs as they learn.


Students in Miss. Betz’s classroom sit on the new chairs as they learn.

OHS has begun to see the impact of an educational movement that has been changing the way that classrooms around the country look and function. 

These new “pilot classrooms” incorporate flexible seating and more unique furniture designs. The goal of this new seating is to give students a more comfortable environment to work in, making classrooms into a space that can facilitate learning. 

“What I wanted to do was work with teachers to create classroom environments that are conducive to student’s having an innovative, creative, flexible learning space.” said OHS Principal Tamara Sunkett.

In order to create this creative environment, the three teachers who are piloting these classrooms were able to pick the furniture that they felt best suited their classrooms. Some of the new additions include high tables, for students who like to stand, couches, and moving chairs. 

“It really moves us away from the idea that education has had for the last three hundred years of all in chairs in a row, everyone sitting the same way… because we know that not every kid is the same,” said Principal Sunkett, “some kids have different learning styles.”

Three teachers are now piloting these flexible classrooms, Jessica Betz, an English teacher; Christy White, a Math teacher; and Sarah Hartmann, a Social Studies teacher. Although there are only a few classrooms currently participating in the initiative, Principal Sunkett plans to expand the program by a few classrooms each year. She hopes to create a situation where every classroom is a flexible, stimulating environment for students.

 Ms. White says that before she got the new furniture her classroom felt smaller and students were uncomfortable in the traditional desks. “I had the desks with the desk and the chair attached and the kids hated them, because they couldn’t move and they were kinda stuck in one spot.” 

In White’s classroom tall tables surround a pod of shorter, triangular tables in the center of the room, pushed together to form a square. A couch and two gaming rockers are located in the back corner of the room. 

“If they can’t focus where they are at, they have the option to go sit in those chairs,” said White, “So I think it has definitely helped kids stay focused, and just offers them more chances to stand up and move around.”