HAZARD — Mrs. Ashley Haynes’s sixth-grade class is doing something a little different this school year. Haynes was awarded the Learning Innovation grant through Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) and Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) foundations. Haynes is using the grant money to offer her students flexible seating, which includes bean bag chairs, butterfly chairs, and futons. Her goal during the project is to promote positive student behavior during educational learning.
The project is called “Triple A Ashley’s Alternative Areas.” The project started on Jan. 9. During the project, Haynes will conduct a study against the previous year to see if behavioral problems had increased, decreased or stayed the same. She will present her findings at a Promising Practices conference at the Pikeville Expo Center in April.
Haynes is in her tenth year of teaching. She is in her second-year teaching sixth grade. Haynes teaches math at Hazard Middle School.
“I wanted my students to have a personalized learning space every day where they would feel the most comfortable and the most productive and hopefully reduce the chances of them becoming irritable, bored, and off task. The things as we teachers don’t want,” said Haynes.
Last semester, Haynes had a traditional classroom with school desks and organized rows. When she told her students that she was awarded the grant, Haynes said the students were excited. Her students helped her choose what types of furniture they would like to have in the classroom through an online survey.
“They had a student voice and input in what they wanted,” said Haynes.
Haynes’s students also had input on what the expectations of the flexible seating were; they then helped decide what would the consequences be if those expectations were not met.
One of the surprising outcomes of the flexible seating, Haynes said was certain students being on time. Haynes said a few of her students had problems with tardiness, but since the flexible seating, those same students have been on time every day.
“They want to be on time so they could get the seat they want,” said Haynes.
The class has a seating rotation, though. Haynes said she did this because it allows each the students to try out the different type of furniture in the classroom.
Haynes left several desks in the classroom for students who like to sit in the desks. Haynes said some of the students sit in them out of instinct and others actually like sitting in the desks better than the flexible seating.
She mentioned how supportive the principal of HMS, Kevin Combs, was of her project.
“He is very, very, very supportive. He always has been with any of these innovative strategies I want to try,” said Haynes.
What Haynes hopes comes out of the flexible seating is after conducting another student perception survey to see if the students’ perception of the classroom environment has changed since the introduction of the flexible seating.
She also wants to see if the flexible seating has an impact on student behavior by comparing this semester’s student behavior to last semester’s student behavior.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald. He can be reached at 606-629-3245.