A gathering area is a place for a classroom to come together as a community. It is a place to share, listen, talk, and learn from each other. A successful workshop hinges on a teacher who values the gathering space as an essential component of the reading classroom.
Basic considerations for the gathering space:
- Access to what you need. Teacher has easy access to supplies such as chart paper, overhead, doc camera, white boards, markers, and pencils.
- Space for everyone. The space is large enough to accommodate all students in the class.
- Limited distractions. The space is located away from obvious distractions, such as the classroom door.
Additional tips for the gathering space:
- Create a circle if you can. A circle instantly creates a community of equals where each member can see and be seen by all of the other members. Although a circle takes more space than some other configurations, its benefits in terms of classroom management and relationship building among classmates is definitely worth the space and effort.
- Consider the age of your students. Younger students might need assigned seating or markings on the floor to help them quickly find their spot. Older students might appreciate creating their circle with chairs.
- Think outside the box. If you’re having difficulty envisioning where you could create a gathering spot in your classroom, ask a colleague to help you do some brainstorming. Try out a few different options.
- Rearrange when needed. Even the youngest students can be taught to move desks or other furniture quickly and efficiently each day in order to create the space for meeting and then restore the structure of the room after the meeting is over. In fact, the burst of physical movement that this requires of students better prepares them for the learning that comes after.
- Add a bit of charm. Adding a few special touches (a rug, soft lighting, cushions, a plant, etc) will make the space more inviting and comfortable. You’re going to spend a lot of time together in the space, so do something to make it special.