How to Use Lesson Planning to Its Fullest Potential
“Some theorists suggest that lesson planning is not a good idea as it creates a more fixed, teacher-centered lesson” (ITTT TEFL 009 Lesson Planning, pg 1). However, I would argue that without a lesson plan many inexperienced English teachers may often lack direction. I will discuss how to best use a lesson plan to achieve the greatest successes in each lesson.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Melissa B.
It allows you to logically move through the engage, study and activate stages.
There are many important functions in a lesson plan. The first being, it is an aid to planning. It allows you to consider what the students should be achieving in each lesson and how you can make this possible. It allows you to logically move through the engage, study and activate stages within the set time frame of the lesson. The lesson plan also serves as a working document – that is, it helps you stay on track and allows you to have something to refer to throughout the lesson.
The important thing to remember when referring to the lesson plan, however, is to not be too rigid – it is important to remain flexible which better allows the teacher to respond to the need of the class should problems or difficulties arise. An example of this can be when students are struggling with a certain activity, a teacher may need to spend more time showing them examples of how to complete it, or better explaining it and running through it with them. If a teacher sticks to their plan too rigidly, a student may be confused and not benefit from the exercises.
However, if they are flexible, they can ensure the students understand. It is important to remember to record changes made in each lesson so you have a proper record of what occurred during the lesson for future reference. The lesson plan is also a sort of record for what has occurred in each class and what material was used. Proper recording of each class content will also allow substitute teachers to easily cover your class, should you become ill and unable to attend.
Also read: Why You Should Take Specialized TEFL Courses
How to write a Lesson Plan
There are many methods for writing down a lesson plan. Whilst some teachers write a formal plan, others may simply jot down some simple notes. The best use of a lesson plan is whatever method works best for each individual. It is very flexible in its creation, however, there are some basic principles when writing a lesson plan. These include:
- Keep the lesson plan simple so it is not too difficult to refer to quickly during a lesson
- Do not script the lesson – you can never predict the exact outcome of each lesson and this only complicates the lesson plan
- Structure your lesson plan and maintain the same structure each time your write one so as not to confuse yourself
- Include the estimated time each activity will take – this allows you to keep within the time limit of each lesson, and better plan for future activities should you underestimate or overestimate timing
- Ensure the lesson has a smooth flow, adhering to the general principle of starting with the Engage phase and finishing with the Activate phase in each lesson
- Ensure it is flexible – it must be open to changes should the need arise
What to include in your Lesson Plan
The main things that should be included in a lesson plan are:
- Learner objectives (what the students should be able to do by the end of the lesson)
- Personal aims (what the teacher wishes to achieve/any area of teaching they wish to improve)
- Language point (the theme of the lesson)
- Teaching aids (what materials will be needed throughout the lesson)
- Anticipated problems for students and teacher
- Procedure (the activities to be included to help achieve learner objectives)
- Phase (reference to which phase each activity falls under – i.e. engage, study or activate)
- Timing (how long each activity is estimated to take)
- Interaction (e.g. student-student interaction or teacher-student interaction)
- Class level (the ability level of the class relating to their use of the English language)
- Number of students (allows you to keep a record of class size)
- Teacher and observer names (useful if the class is monitored).
An effective way of continually improving lessons and better achieving class needs and goals is to constantly monitor your lessons. The lesson plan allows you to do this, but it is also useful to add notes to it at the end of each lesson. This allows you to find areas of improvement and ways you can better engage the class or make the lesson more enjoyable in the future. “By focusing on each lesson’s strengths and weaknesses teachers will be helping themselves to develop” (ITTT TEFL 009 Lesson planning, pg7).
Now you're ready to write your own lesson plan!
If a lesson plan is properly utilized and well recorded, it can be an incredibly useful tool for all English teachers in any classroom environment. It can ensure the students are engaged, enjoying the class, and achieving the desired learning outcomes. Its use will make lessons more effective and overall better for both teachers and students.
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