Are things are getting stale? Do you want to bring more reverence into the classroom? Or do you just want to make a different impact? The easiest thing to do is change the way your classroom is set up. Try one of these 9 different ways and see what happens:
If you're lucky, you have that small table in your classroom to put your things on. Instead of hogging the table to yourself, use it in a different way. Put it in the middle of the classroom and put objects on it. If you have a small class, you can all gather around it. With my larger class in Young Women's class, I bring in bigger tables. We love using a round table. It creates really good discussion as we all gather in a circle. The big rectangular table works well when I am doing lots of board work. We use notebooks a lot and its really helpful to have it in our classroom. My class is old enough to help me move it in and out which is nice. When I teach all the Young Women, I have done a couple of round tables. Its great if you are planning on group work too even in Relief Society. Bring in a few objects for display. When eyes start to wander at least there is something to look at that relates back to the lesson.
Are you planning on doing group work? A couple of round tables makes it easy to divide the class into groups and start a conversation.
With the new Come Follow Me Curriculum in Relief Society and Priesthood, I would even try having everyone sitting around a row of tables. It gives people that security feel while still looking at each other.
Typically classrooms are set up in either rows or semicircles. Try changing it to a full circle or removing all the chairs and sit on the floor (bring a picnic blanket even). My seminary teacher would occasionally do this with a sign on the door asking for us to remove our shoes and be extra reverent (might work for a Sabbath day lesson). It always created a great atmosphere for our lessons specifically about Jesus Christ. What formation do you like the best? I personally hate it when I sit somewhere then asked to move to the front. I totally get the reason but I had a reason to sit where I did too. At least with the chairs moved, I can still sit somewhere I'm comfortable with but it also makes the teacher happy.
Other chair formation ideas: several mini circles, a square, two rows facing each other, several smaller rows facing each other. or a semi-circle.
Everyone loves having something to look at on the board. The beauty of putting up a quote or scriptures on the board is people are already thinking about it before you even ask them. I love the building we have now where there are several white boards on sliders in the Relief Society room. Its so nice to write on the board and hide it behind another until I need it- definitely saves time and makes the lesson go more smoothly because I'm not pausing to write. In Young Women's we just have the one white board so this last week I prepared papers ahead of time and had them facing the board so they couldn't see them yet. The girls love picking them to unveil what was on the other side. If you are planning on using magnets- make sure they are strong ones. Its so annoying to have pictures slide down the board during the lesson. Also, its super helpful for the students if you write down the scriptures you will be looking up during class on the board. I've been through several lessons that I had no idea where we were the entire time.
Trying to create a reverent atmosphere? Check out a CD player from the library or bring a device to play some church music. The church has great music players on their site now (check out the LDS Media app if you haven't yet). You can even create a playlist of music that goes with your lesson ahead of time. If you can, bring a special musical guest for even more fun.
Do a quick once over. Its amazing what people pick up on when there eyes wander during a lesson. They will find that one piece of trash and may cause a disturbance. If there is one hymn book in the classroom someone always ends up playing with it unless its put out of the way. Pick things up quickly and ask others to help you out.
This one is a tricky one especially with a room full of women. Some will think its too hot, others too cold, and of course, some are perfectly content. However, at least push the temporary occupied button- most of the time that will do the trick. If you need to open a window, remember people may have seasonal allergies and there will be unplanned loud noise since no one thinks to be quiet once they are outside the building. I know some building that will keep the temperature cooler but offer blankets to those that may need them.
You don't always have to have them on. When its a sunny day, I sometimes leave them off. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere. Try bringing a lamp from home for a special lesson or opening up the drapes.
Decorations Around the Room
Don't go crazy mind you but can you put pictures around the room? If everyone is sitting in a circle maybe you can walk to the different pictures as you talk about different points of your lesson. There is always a fake tree in our classroom. I'm determined to incorporate it in one of our lessons sometime. Any ideas?
Walk in Activity
As people walk in, have them involved in the lesson right away by doing an activity. One day I asked the Young Women to make a picture of something important in their bedrooms then hang it up on one of the boards in the room. Maybe they can do a journaling activity or quick quiz when they come in. Sometimes I have a handout for the Young Women to glue in their notebooks right away or a chart to make before we get going. Anything that helps set the tone.
A little preparation can change the entire lesson. I love changing things up because it usually allows the mind to open a little bit more which allows for more discussion. It helps take us out of our rut and actually learn again. What is your favorite way to set up?