The Impact of Classroom Environment on Student Achievement and Engagement

The physical environment you set up within the classroom can be extremely powerful and lead toward student engagement and achievement. Below, we have listed strategies that can be implemented in the classroom to achieve a positive and supportive physical environment through flexible seating, products and pricing options for flexible seating, and funding options.


Physical Environment


The physical environment of any classroom should be set up in an intentional manner to promote a positive, supportive, and engaging classroom environment. Messages to students, school personnel, and parents can be sent through the arrangement of the physical environment within a classroom. Giving student the chance to help sent up the classroom will lead them to feel pride and ownership of their learning space. When students have pride and take ownership of their classroom, they will be more engaged which leads to academic achievement. Listed below are links and summaries of resources to help you create the best possible environment for your students!


  • This resource shows how a teacher can change their students just by changing their room and the physical environment. The physical structure of the classroom deeply impacts student morale and learning.. Creating a space that is warm and inviting with the students allows them to take ownership of the classroom and leads to a closer classroom community. 

  • Teachers can “achieve a warm, well-run classroom with these tips to create a physical layout that reflects your teaching style.” Furthermore, “warm, well-run classrooms begin with the room's physical layout — the arrangement of desks and working space, the attractiveness and appeal of bulletin boards, the storage of materials and supplies.” Through arranging space, desk placement, and environmental preferences the classroom environment you create can lead to engagement and academic achievement.



 Options to Consider with Physical Environment of the Classroom:

  1. Create both well-lit and dimly-lit areas in the classroom
  2. Provide opportunities for children to move around
  3. Establish informat furniture arrangements
  4. Establish listening stations and quiet study areas
  5. Help students become aware of their own temperature preferences






Flexible Seating


Flexible seating options allow students to learn in ways that are comfortable to them. When students are comfortable, they will be more engaged, which leads to growth in academic achievement. Listed below are links and summaries of resources to help you create the best possible environment for your students!

  • An account from a teacher who introduced flexible seating to her elementary classroom part way through the year. She shares what worked and what didn’t including what she thinks the best way to introduce it to parents. She also includes how she funded her classroom and procedures that we put in place to ensure it ran smoothly, even in her absence. This is a great resource for any question you may have about flexible seating and the practicality of it in your classroom.



Benefits of a Flexible Seating Classroom  

  • The attributes listed below reveal the benefits of using flexible seating within the classroom to lead toward student engagement and achievement.
  1. Choice: Gives students the power to decide where they want to work and what seating will help them learn best.
  2. Physical Health:  Allows students to “wobble, rock, bounce, lean or stand, which increases oxygen flow to the brain, blood flow and core strength.”
  3. Comfort: All students have different comfort and flexible seating allows them to “find their best spot to stay calm, focused and productive.”
  4. Community: Encourages students to share the various classroom spaces as well as their supplies, rather than desks that may cause them to be more territorial.  
  5. Collaboration: It is easier to group students with this seating. They can easily be put into small groups and partners. “Our classroom environments should be conducive to open collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.”
  6. Communication: Opens new doors for student-teacher and student-student communication. It requires students to demonstrate patience, use problem-solving skills and conflict resolution.
  7. Sensory Input: This “stimulation can help children focus and process information. It is especially helpful for students with ADHD, ADD, and ASD.”
  8. Fun: The students enjoy getting to change up their learning environment and having new experiences in the classroom.“It’s important to bring a positive mindset and recognize that the process takes time. She also recommends being deliberate with your choices, and to not overlook practical issues…”
  9. Commitment to Learning: Creating more student control results in improved student engagement and enhances class discussions.





Products and Pricing Options for Flexible Seating


Pricing for flexible seating comes in a wide range. There are some options that may be more expensive, but there are also many other options that are in the affordable range. Listed below are links and summaries of resources to help you create the best possible environment for your students! Also, there are pictures to help visualize what flexible seating can accomplish!




Below are pictures from a classroom that currently implements flexible seating for part of the day. This was in a class of 1st graders in Southwest Ohio.

  • These two articles show teachers how they can be thrifty with their flexible seating options. This is a great resource for a teacher who is tight on money or for one whose district is unable to pay for flexible seating. Some of the ideas include yoga mats, tires, and more! The websites also include some ideas on how to fund it in your classroom!

  • If you are in a district where they are willing to help fund your classroom or if you just have a donor who is willing to spend some money this resource is for you! It has multiple flexible seating options that are on the pricier side. Some fun options include dry erase desks, standing desks, and rocking chairs. These could totally transform your classroom and your students.






Options for Funding


Setting up a classroom can be an expensive task. By applying for grants, you are able to get the funding that is needed to provide your students with the best tools to help be more engaged and achieve their highest potential. Students deserve the very best, so applying for grants is a wonderful way to get students the supplies they need. Listed below are links of resources to help you receive funding to create the best possible environment for your students!

  • These articles show how to fund your flexible seating in the classroom through Donors Choose and PledgeCents, . Donors Choose allows the teacher to create a project and request money for specific items they are looking for. They can add pictures and a description. Anyone in the world can give to any project. This is especially great if you have community members who want to donate to your classroom but are unsure how to or what you need. PledgeCents works similarly. In order to get more funding it is recommended that you do the following:
  1. Build a narrative
  2. Create an outcome focused title

  3. Be transparent

  4. Details make the difference

  5. Quantify donor’s impact

  6. Share, share, share!


  • Which grants to apply for to fund flexible seating in your classroom