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3 Tips for Classroom Set-Up

Posted by Langevin Team on 2/9/15 3:00 AM
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When setting up a room to teach a traditional instructor-led workshop, there are three areas on which to focus in order to create the best possible experience for your participants. I'll explain each, and give an example of what might happen if that element is overlooked.

Participation

When arranging the seating, consider how your learners will be interacting with you and the other learners. If they'll work in teams, set them up in table groups. If there is lots of hands-on computer work, have pairs of participants share work stations in rows. The classroom layout sends an immediate message to your learners about how you expect them to participate.

What Might Happen if…

I attended a session recently where we were set up in rows. Since there were not too many of us, we were scattered throughout the room. When we were asked to pair up, we lost valuable discussion time trying to navigate the room to find a partner. This problem could have been avoided with a little planning on the part of the facilitator.

Comfort

The learners will be less distracted if they are comfortable. When they feel too crowded or awkward, they lose the ability to focus on your training. A basic rule of thumb is to allow 4-6 square feet of table space per participant. This may seem like a lot, but once you add books, supplies, handouts, and a little elbow room, it really isn't that much space. Providing comfortable chairs with good back support, height adjustment, and arm rests, will also increase comfort.

What Might Happen if…

As I tried to find a seat at a recent event, the tables were set up in rows, the chairs were practically touching, and every second chair had a set of materials. I found a seat between two people but I couldn't even take notes because we were literally elbow to elbow. Thankfully the session lasted less than one hour.

Visibility

Consider each learner's ability to make eye contact with you and the other learners. Your goal is to position the chairs, so everyone has a direct line of sight to you, each other, the screen, and any charts in the room. When using table groups, participants may need to turn slightly to see different elements of focus. You can invite them to turn their chairs as necessary.

What Might Happen if…

In a workshop I attended we were in an L-shaped room. Being on the short end of the L, the screen was sideways to us because the facilitator decided to provide a clear view to the majority of the participants. Simply angling the screen on the corner of the L would have helped us all see the screen.

Setting up your classroom with the learners’ participation, comfort, and visibility in mind will set you and your learners up for success.

What experiences can you share where one or more of these elements were overlooked? How did it affect your training experience?

For more amazing tips on how to set up your classroom to maximize success, enroll in our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop!


Dealing with Difficult Participants



Topics: instructional techniques, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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