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Your class room set up needs to be an invitation to learn.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create" - Albert Einstein.

Think back to training sessions you have attended yourself. Which training session do your remember with pleasure, the one that had a boring class room set up with just tables and chairs or the classroom set up that looked inviting, vibrant, colourful and looked as if it was going to be a lot of fun?

Knowledge Base Central  lives by the motto: "What we learn with pleasure, we never forget".

You will thank yourself for spending time on setting up your room creatively so it looks like an invitation to learn.  When your learners walk into the room, they should be thinking: 'yeah this look great, I don't mind being here today, wonder what we are going to do '.

These are the things you need to consider:

 The preferred learning styles of your learners

If you don't know the learning styles of your students, use the VARK model and consider the activities you have planned to cater for each learning style. 

Will you need props for the Kinesthetic learners? What are they going to be? Have them out on the desks before they come in and you immediately have some "imagination" going as they will wonder what the props are going to be used for.

What about your Visual learners? They want to see colour in the room, posters on the walls, flip chart paper, felt tips on the desks.

What about your Reader and writers? They want to walk into the room and see immediately that there will be opportunities for them to write. Have the writing pad and pens on the desk, flip chart on the walls with only the heading written up etc.

For your audio learners, use music when they walk in. This will not only please the audio learners but everybody will be energised and motivated especially if you theme the music to the topic you are teaching.  If this is hard to find, use something up beat and motivational to put everybody in good spirits.

 

Table and chair set up
This really depends on what you are teaching and how many people you have in your group. There are several classroom set ups you should consider.

  • Class room: think back to primary and high school and you will get the picture. Individual desks and chairs all facing forward. Probably not your favourite set up, as this is not very inviting for adult learners who might not have a favourable memories of their school days. It also stops interaction between learners and it makes you, the facilitator, the most authoritative person.
     
  • Groups: fantastic set up as you can make the groups from 4 to 8 depending what you want the groups to do. For group discussion keep the groups small, so it is easier for everybody to participate as in larger groups the shy learners will not be as confidence to speak up. However if you want the group to prepare an interactive presentation, six to eight people is ideal as you will have a mixture of learning styles who can all express themselves in their own way. Having a group set it ,also makes it easy for you to walk around the room and give each group individual attention.
     
  • Shape: is very popular when teaching a lot of technical contents. Everybody can see you and the white board, but they are still able to easily interact with people next to them and across from them. It is also great that you can walk inside the U-shape and keep an eye on each individual student.
     
  • Chairs and tables: think about it, do you always need tables and chairs. For 90% of the time, probably yes but if you are working with a young bunch of learners, take away the barriers of tables and chairs, push them to the side and let them make themselves comfortable on the floor. Some will sit down, some will lie down, some will pull over a chair. Accept whatever their preference is. Perhaps you just want to start like this for an icebreaker/warm up activity and than ask them to set you the room in groups. As long as your learners are learning does it really matter if it happens behind a desk? Try it, step away from tradition, as long as you are happy joining them on the floor as well. Why not organise some beanbags or large cushions for some added comfort.
     
  • Just chairs in semi circle: another way of putting the barrier of a desk to the side.  Perhaps you just want to talk to them, do some closed book revision, or explain what task you want them to complete.This is also great if you want to create a group discussion.
     
  • Role play: if you are teaching selling skills, communication skills or customer service skills etc that require the students to practice by doing a role play, think about your class room set up desks and chairs. You could have just one table and a chair on either side. Put props on the desks to make it relevant to their subject.
     
Music
The importance of music in your training room is covered under a separate chapter. Click here.

Putting time and effort into getting the music right could make or break the session
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Having music going when your learners walk in is a simple way of creating that inviting environment. It breaks down barriers and the music will immediately say something about you as their facilitator for the day. Match the music to your group of learners/ their age/ their interest/ the topic you are teaching. You don't need to like the music but if it helps your most reluctant learners to open up their minds, you can put up with 3 minutes of your less favourite music. Also think about the music in between, and the music at the end of the day. 

Wall space
Use the wall space. Very often the wall in a training room can look very bland. Again put thought into how you can use this space and use them as a learning tool for your students.
  • Posters: do you have any posters relevant to what you are teaching as this will create an instant atmosphere
  • Flip chart paper: stick sheets around the room with the bare minimum written on them. Use them during your session to get the students up and ask them to write on them. You could create a cross word on them or a "hangman" game to create some intrigue. You could write key words/principles/definitions on them as this would give your learners an instant feeling of what is going to be learnt today. During the day they can look round the room and reflect what they mean.
  • Laminated signs: Any words, abbreviations, definitions etc they need to learn during the session, have them displayed on laminated signs and use them during the day. Like for the flip chart paper, students can check their learning during the day and feel good about themselves as they did not know the meaning of these signs at the start of the day. Use laminated pictures, symbols , cartoon type figures.
  • Props: Use props on your wall to create a bit of fun and intrigue and it will create an inviting learning environment.
     
White board
Good use of the white board (or flip chart if no whiteboard is available) is an essential tool to open up the learners minds.  First of all use as much colour as you can, use oranges, pinks, purples, lime green and yellow for drawing on the board. Use the traditional black, red, and blue for the important information and while writing during the session. It is important that on the left or right hand side of the board you summarise what is going to be covered in today's session.

TIP: Have you used a permanent marker pen on a whiteboard and could not get it off?

There is absolutely no reason to panic. Stay calm and composed. Pick up a whiteboard marker and a tissue , write over the permanent marker pen word and rub out with your tissue. Do little sections at the time if you discovered it after you wrote an entire essay on the board. If you don't believe this simple trick, why don't you and try it right now in a discrete corner of your whiteboard.