Have you ever attended a conference where you felt numb from sitting too long? Began to nod off or daydream? As the blood begins to pool in your feet and legs, your ability to concentrate and process is diminished. Studies show that movement and exercise can disrupt this and cause an increase in the rate of learning (Ratey, 2008).
When we are moving, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for several super-charged properties. It increases attention, pleasure, motivation and perseverance. Imagine a room filled with people who are experiencing these benefits! If your goal is to increase learning and retention of information, experts agree - include multisensory activities in your course (ATD, 2017).
Worried about movement becoming chaotic? Even simple, tactile movements will yield better learner engagement. Ask audience members to snap their fingers or wave both of their arms in the air if they like an idea. As you become more comfortable, take a risk and try more active, kinesthetic strategies. Gallery walks or board brainstorming relays can be used to reinforce any new content. Avoid chaos by adding structure. Use a visual timer and announce time frames and provide clear directions on a slide. Modeling desired movements will decrease learner anxiety and ensure more accurate execution. If participants will be moving around the room, be sure that aisles are clear and ask participants to tuck items under tables.
Concerned that adults will think movement is a waste of time? Share the research so that everyone understands your purpose. Most participants will follow your lead and be glad for the chance to move.
Posted above my desk is the following saying: Learning is not a spectator sport.
As I design new training sessions, it reminds me to build in multiple opportunities for participants to share ideas, brainstorm and make meaning for themselves.
But as I begin to facilitate the session, the battle begins. It is the age-old battle between what is good for learners and the clock on the wall. Time ticks away and I am tempted to cut back on the amount of participant talk. Especially when I realize that “Windy” is in my group. Windy is the participant who always has a long-winded answer. A “quick share” turns into a few minutes, messing up my timing and causing others’ to lose focus. Temptation creeps in – should I just avoid participant sharing all together?
Don’t let temptation win! Instead, win the battle by providing a clear guideline. Try saying, “I’d love to hear three different ideas. Please get ready to share your idea in 20 words or less.” I recently added this phrase to my facilitation repertoire, along with “capture your group discussion in 3 to 5 words,” and “give me a two sentence summary.”
Of course, my training sessions always have other times when participants can engage in longer, richer discussions with colleagues. One of my favorite discussion structures can be found here.
How do you manage “Windy,” while still following best practices for teaching and learning?
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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