Getting to Grips with Lesson Planning

Getting to Grips with Lesson PlanningWhy Plan a Lesson?

Imagine being the captain of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. You know the name of the idyllic island you have to reach and your responsibility is to ensure the passengers arrive safely and have a good time on the way there. A teacher is like a captain: they have to use ‘navigation tools’, develop good and detailed ‘maps’ to navigate the vast sea of knowledge, helping students reach their final destination. The most reliable instrument that a teacher can use is a lesson plan.

Many teachers underestimate the importance of planning a lesson, and consider the process of writing even a basic plan as a waste of time, or a useless formality. But think about it for a moment: would you cook dinner without having bought your ingredients and have them all to hand? By following simple and clear steps, especially as a novice chef you can be sure to have a delicious meal. The same happens when it is time to deliver a session: by planning well, you and your students will enjoy a positive learning experience.

Lesson Plan and Formats

A lesson plan is a ‘map’ of your lesson, which shows where you start, the route you take and the final destination. You might use different formats depending on what the school or organisation requires, and the subject you teach.

7 tips to get your lesson plan sorted out:

  • The lesson needs to be structured logically – A good lesson plan should include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
  • Define clear aims and objectives –  Once these are set, all the activities will be easier to plan. Aims are general statements used to explain what the teacher wants to do in the lesson. Objectives describe what the students should be able to achieve by the end of the session, something to aim for. Remember to plan by using the SMART formula (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). Note that vague verbs such as ‘to know…’, to understand…’ will only make the assessment part more difficult to observe and measure for you. Instead, use more specific verbs, such as ‘to describe, to list, to explain’ etc. An example of aims could be: “To teach students how to count in Italian”. With an objective of : ‘By the end of the lesson students will be able to count from 1 to 10 in Italian’.
  • Break your lesson plan into different sections; create a grid if that’s easier for you and fill it in with the timing for each activity. Include teacher activities and learner activities so that you know what you and your class will be doing. Don’t forget to include the resources you will need to use and the assessment you plan to carry out.
  • Your lesson plan is your tool: it’s there to guide you and support you during your lesson. When consulting it, try to be flexible and be prepared to change things if necessary: trust me, there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind !
  • Always consider students’ needs and learning preferences and remember that every student learns differently.
  • Include a range of different activities. Variety is the spice of life! Students will appreciate your effort and they will be keener to participate.
  • Plan extra. It’s always a good idea to prepare additional activities, just in case your students finish earlier what you have prepared for them. It’s better to be prepared for the unexpected!

Lesson planning is part of being a competent and capable teacher. Schools and training organisations expect teachers to be able to produce well-structured lesson plans. Sometimes, inexperienced teachers dread writing lesson plans, as they have no idea of how to do it. In their mind the lesson plan becomes a terrifying monster, ready to ruin their lessons.
It’s true that writing a good lesson plan takes time and effort, but there is no need to panic. Luckily, this is a skill that can be learned. All the teacher training courses we offer at Carlton Training include lesson planning. Let us teach you how to plan effective lessons and be certain that the lesson plan will become your best friend in the classroom.

Blogger : Benedetta Celeste teacher, assessor and educator.

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