Creating a stimulating learning environment

It was a sunny March morning in Leeds and I met with a group of 9 trainers in the coffee area at Hinsley Hall. There was an air of anticipation; trainers who had never met each other were nervously introducing themselves. They were about to begin a full 2-day workshop on Accelerated Learning. I slowly walked them down the corridor and into the classroom. “WOW!” said Becky Perkins, a trainer from Royal London Insurance. Watch the video below to get some ideas from an interview with Becky.

Now, let me share with you, some of the reasons why the environment is important and how you can make your classroom sparkle, so that your learners can say “WOW!” too!

Since I began to study accelerated learning, I have had many light bulb moments, the most significant one being that I as facilitator need to inspire people to learn, more than to be an expert in the field I am training in. This has led me to many more light-bulb moments, including the idea that people become more creative in a stimulating environment. If the environment is always the same, then people will always stick to the same patterns of thinking.

When Becky walked in she saw posters, pictures, toys on the tables as well as sweets and fruit. For her, the way the classroom was set out, impacted the whole learning experience.

“So how can I, with my non-existent budget, make it a stimulating environment for my learners?” I can hear you say. Well let’s not beat about the bush, your time is precious, so here are few low cost ways to make your classroom sparkle!

  • Use flipchart paper, taped together to create a tablecloth (or buy cheap paper tablecloths) – these can be used for reviews or “what do you know already” sessions.
  • Put borders (in marker) around your flipcharts and use a variety of colours –it is amazing how effective this is!
  • Buy some coloured pipe cleaners (I have found packs for £1:50!) to scatter on the tables; people love to fiddle with them
  • Fix 4 pieces of flipchart together on the wall and make a collage with the group, using old magazines. The theme could be “Where are we now … and where would you like to be?” or just get them to find pictures to represent what they already know about the subject. You can use this to weave in your own thoughts
  • Make some laminates of processes or diagrams that they can fiddle with and put them on the tables
  • Use some quiet classical music to create a calm atmosphere; I use an old Pringles can as a speaker!
  • Ask people to bring in “brain friendly” snacks to share – fruit, nuts, water and anything else

Recently I have been delivering some talks at CIPD branch meetings on the 5 secrets of accelerated learning. here are some of the ideas that the participants came up with to make their  classrooms sparkle: Ways to make your classroom sparkle #3

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