Quick Tip Tuesday: Creating a learning space

February 24th, 2009

In Responsive Literacy Coaching, Cheryl Dozier offers thoughtful and purposeful coaching to help teachers learn multiple ways to improve literacy instruction and student achievement.  In this week’s tip, Cheryl talks about how she designs a learning environment for teachers that promotes collaboration and sharing.

When designing a meeting space, the choices I make are based on community building. If I’m meeting one on one, I want to create a private, invitational space. I look for comfortable chairs. Where can we sit together so there is no power differential? I look for places where we can easily sit side by side to talk together and to look at documents, artifacts, student writing, and work samples.

For larger groups, I look to see where I can most easily create a comfortable learning space. The first thing I do for group meetings is organize the environment so that we can all see one another and have enough room to write comfortably and share student work samples. I consider the following to ensure that everyone can be part of the conversation: Round tables invite collaboration. Long tables have to be placed to keep the space invitational so that distance is not created. What spaces do we need to share our artifacts? Mentor texts? What about our environment invites writing, collaboration, and learning?

Transfer to Classroom

Just as I work to create a learning space when working with teachers, I ask teachers to consider physical learning spaces when they are creating their classrooms. Do they prefer desks? Round tables? Long tables? How are learning centers organized and placed within the classroom? Is there an area for gathering together to look at the easel, the overhead projector, or the classroom library? Where are the areas that encourage sustained opportunities for collaboration? Where to students get to put their materials?


I believe it is important that we all address each other by name. If some of the teachers are new to the building or district, I make sure to provide name cards and markers. It is interesting to see how people choose to represent themselves as they decorate their cards. For some, color matters. I’ve had teachers wait several minutes to get the color they wanted.

I also make a seating chart for myself for each session and am mindful to quickly learn the name of each teacher. Students notice when we learn their names as well. When I wander through the halls, I feel better when I address the children by name.


Good things happen around food. Food invites sharing, collaboration, and a bringing together of community. From the chocolate on my desk at work, to the treats we organize for our time together, food matters.

Entry Filed under: Classroom practice,Quick Tip Tuesday

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