19 Establish an Appropriate Physical Setting

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 72

Principle to Emphasize

Teachers can establish an appropriate physical setting by doing such things as arranging seating, eliminating distractions, and enhancing surroundings (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders [1994], 24).

Note: The teacher demonstration activity at the end of this lesson requires advance preparation from assigned teachers. Make assignments to teachers well in advance of the in-service meeting.

Suggested Training Activities (30 minutes)

Object Lesson

Before class, rearrange the seating in your in-service room in such a way that it will be obvious that the seating has been changed. At an appropriate time in the meeting, discuss what effect seating can have on learning.


Have a teacher read aloud the statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the gray box on page 24 of the handbook. Ask teachers: What effect does the physical setting have on reverence and inspiration?

Scripture Activity

The Last Supper

Read Matthew 26:17–30. Ask teachers: What evidence is there that the Lord was concerned about the physical and spiritual setting of the Last Supper?


Have teachers read the paragraph entitled “Seating” (handbook, 24). Ask:

  1. How can seating arrangements affect learning? (see handbook, 24).

  2. How does assigned seating help a teacher? (see handbook, 24).

  3. What variations of seating might be used in your classroom?

Illustrate the variations of seating arrangements on the board as teachers describe them. Variations might include the following:


Discuss the effect the in-service seating arrangement has had on the meeting up to this point. Ask teachers to suggest how a rearrangement of the seating could better meet the in-service group’s needs. Rearrange the seating and ask:

  1. How do various seating arrangements support different kinds of learning activities?

  2. What seating arrangements have you found to be successful?

  3. What might be the advantages of rotating seating assignments from time to time?


Have teachers read the paragraph entitled “Distractions” (handbook, 24). Have teachers describe some of the potential distractions in their teaching setting. Discuss ways to minimize such distractions.


Invite teachers to read the paragraph entitled “Surroundings” (handbook, 24). Have teachers look for two ways the learning setting can be enhanced.


Have the previously assigned teachers demonstrate how they have used gospel-related pictures, illustrations, posters, or other displays to effectively enhance the classroom surroundings and establish an appropriate physical setting for learning. Following the demonstrations, ask teachers: What could be done to enhance the surroundings of the setting where you teach?


Invite teachers to enhance the surroundings of the setting where they teach. Have teachers share their experience of applying what they have learned (with a colleague or in the next in-service meeting).