Some theorists suggest that lesson planning is not a good idea as it creates a more fixed, teacher
centered lesson. At the same time it is very difficult for inexperienced teacher
s to be able to be as flexible as this would require. Some teacher
s with experience seem to have an ability to think on their feet, which allows them to believe that they do not need to plan their lessons. However, many teacher
s go on preparing lessons throughout their careers, even if the plans are very formal. But most teacher
s prefer to just make notes, or complete lesson plan forms and build in flexibility.
Why to plan lessons
- For students, evidence of a plan shows them that the teacher
has devoted time to thinking about the class. It strongly suggests a level of professionalism and a commitment to the kind of preparation they might reasonably expect. Lack of a plan suggests the opposite of these teacher
attributes. Just as teacher
s expect their students to come to class prepared to learn, students come to class expecting their teacher
s to be prepared to teach. You students will learn more with a properly designed lesson in which you have paid careful attention to detail. They know when their teacher
is unprepared. And, unfortunately, on occasion, some students will take advantage of the situation to misbehave. Finally, when you are prepared, you are less stressed and more comfortable while teaching the lesson.
- For the teacher
, a plan – however informal – gives the lesson a framework, an overall shape. It is true that he or she may end up departing from it at stages of the lesson, but at the very least it will be something to fall back on. Of course, good teacher
s are flexible and respond creatively to what happens in the classroom, but they also need to have thought ahead, have a destination they want their students to reach, and know how they are going to get there. In the classroom, a plan helps to remind teacher
s what they intend to do – especially if they get distracted or momentarily forget what they had intended.
- Planning helps, then, because it allows teacher
s to think about where they`re going to and gives them time to have ideas for tomorrow`s and next week`s lessons. Writing down what you expect the students to achieve by the end of the lesson, and how you intend to make that possible, helps you to think logically through the stages in relation to available time. Deciding what to teach, in what order, and for how much time are the basic components of planning. The lesson plan serve as a map or a checklist that guides us in knowing what we want to do next; these sequences of activities remind us of the goals and objectives of our lessons for our students.
- A lesson plan acts as a record of what a class has done and which materials have been used. Recording class content will also help if you are ill and another teacher
has to cover your class.
No plan is written on tablets of stone, however. All sorts of things can go wrong: equipment not working, bored students, students who`ve “done it before”, students who need to ask unexpected questions
etc. That`s when the teacher
has to be flexible, has to be able to leave the plan for however long, it takes t satisfy the students` needs at the point of the lesson. Sometimes, the plan has to be abandoned completely and it is only after the lesson that the teacher
can look at it again and see if some parts of it are recoverable for future lessons. A good lesson guides but does not dictate what and how we teach. It benefits many stakeholders: teacher
s, administrations, observers, substitutes, and of course, students.
There is one particular situation in which planning is especially important, and that is when a teacher
is to be observed as part of an assessment
or performance review. The observer needs to have a clear idea of what the teacher
intends in order to judge the success of the lesson.
How to plan lessons
A good lesson needs to contain a balanced mix of coherence and variety. Students should see a logical, pattern to the lesson. Even if there are three separate activities, there has to be some connection. The ideal compromise is to plan a lesson that has an internal coherence but which nevertheless allows students to do different things. Although there are a variety of formats to use when creating a lesson plan, most templates share certain characteristics.
Basic principles of lesson planning
- The kind of plans that teacher
s make for themselves can be as scrappy or as detailed as the teacher
feels is necessary. It s a good idea to keep it simple and never try to script the lessons. A teacher
should check a plan for balance of skills and try to make sure activities fit together to give the lesson a smooth flow. This is also extremely important to think through ahead of time.
- The first thing a written plan needs to detail is who the students are: class level, number of students etc. It is also essential to add information about the lesson: date/time, classroom number, teacher
`s and observer`s names.
- The next thing the plan has to contain is what the teacher
wants to do: learner objectives, context, teaching aids (materials and other aids that a teacher
will need in the classroom) etc.
- The third aspect of a plan will say how the teacher
is going to do it: procedure (State, step-by-step, how you are going to implement your plan), warm-up, review, communicative activities etc.
- Lastly, the plan will talk about what might go wrong (and how it can be dealt with).
There is no “correct” form format for a lesson plan. The most important thing about it is that it should be useful for the teacher
and for anyone who is observing him or her. Practicing teacher
s should experiment with plan formats until they find one that is most useful for them.
s plan lessons, they build in changes of activity and a variety of exercises. It may well be that the lesson has an overall theme, but within that theme the students do different things. The same principle applies to a sequence of lessons stretching, for example, over two weeks or a month. There should be a coherent pattern of progress and topic-linking so that there is a connection between lessons and so that they can perceive some overall aims and objectives. At the same time teacher
s should always try to make their lessons less predictable. An experienced teacher
will build goals for the students into a sequence of lessons. This will give both the teacher
and the students something to aim at, whether they are end-week tests, or major revision lessons.
must first see the big picture of the course and be aware of the goals and objectives for the entire term before planning weekly and daily lessons. If the big picture is kept in mind, the individual lessons will connect to form a learning experience that benefits both the teacher
and the students.
International TEFL and TESOL training
course, unit 9.