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Is Lesson Planning Worthwhile?

Is Lesson Planning Worthwhile? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Lesson planning is a frequently used tool by teachers to provide a lesson’s direction, aim, activity outline and a record of the material taught. It tends to be a very individual exercise with some teachers preferring to do little planning and others preferring to plan thoroughly. Factors that might impact on this preference are likely to be a teacher’s level of experience and also possibly the school’s requirement for a teacher to follow a set syllabus.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Alex W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Who is Against Lesson Planning?

Those that argue against lesson planning believe that a lesson plan discourages teachers from being flexible and responding to student needs and interests as they develop throughout a class. Another argument is that lesson planning causes a lesson to be too teacher-centric. On the other hand, proponents for lesson planning argue that a lesson plan helps the teacher to provide a direction for the lesson, gives them something that they can refer to throughout the class, will help the teacher to be well organized for the class and it will provide the teacher with a record of what has been taught.

For inexperienced teachers, in particular, there appear to be many reasons why preparing a lesson plan is valuable. Inexperienced teachers may not be as well equipped to deal with unexpected subject matter issues, questions and activities that might arise as a result of an unplanned lesson. This could result in the teacher losing credibility with their students and leave students feeling frustrated with the lack of overall direction and logical progression of topics. For inexperienced teachers at least, the positive outcomes of lesson planning appear to outweigh the arguments against it.

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Principles of Planning

There are various lesson planning principles that will allow a teacher to get the maximum benefit from using a lesson plan. Lesson plans should include the learning objectives of the lesson or what students should have learned by the end of the lesson. The teacher may also choose to include their own personal teaching aim for the lesson. The lesson plan will also include the language point that is going to be focused on during that lesson. Other useful inclusions in a lesson plan are any expected issues, the teaching aids required, the activities that will be used and timings.

Teaching Approach

Creating a lesson plan can also help teachers to stick to a recommended ESA style lesson. This type of lesson plan helps a teacher to encourage and elicit student participation and allows students to be introduced to new concepts and then have the opportunity to consolidate these new learnings. One advantage of the ESA methodology is that it allows for flexibility as teachers can move back and forth between some of the ESA elements. This flexibility combats some of the arguments against lesson planning. New teachers might find it especially useful to have their lesson plan specify the ESA element that each activity relates to so that they can ensure they are structuring their lessons in the most effective way possible. The TESOL course content provides lots of example activities and ideas for each ESA element across many different language learning points to enable new teachers to be able to start completing effective lesson plans right away.

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Overall, the arguments presented here suggest that lesson planning is a worthwhile exercise, especially to a beginning teacher. A lesson plan will help a beginning teacher to ensure they are using an effective lesson structure (ESA) as well as ensuring they are clear in the lesson aims, organized with materials and prepared for any issues that are likely to arise. While lesson planning may lead to less flexibility, this is partly combated by employing a reasonably flexible methodology. The ability to teach flexibly will likely come to teachers as they gain more experience.

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