Lesson Planning as a Medium of Effective Learning
A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during class time. Then, you can design appropriate learning activities and develop strategies to obtain feedback on student learning. Having a carefully constructed lesson plan for each 3-hour lesson allows you to enter the classroom with more confidence and maximizes your chance of having a meaningful learning experience with your students. A successful lesson plan addresses and integrates three key components: Learning Objectives, Learning Activities, Assessment to check for student understanding.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Elorm D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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A lesson plan provides you with a general outline of your teaching goals, learning objectives, and means to accomplish them, and is by no means exhaustive. A productive lesson is not one in which everything goes exactly as planned, but one in which both students and instructor learn from each other. Lesson planning is at the heart of being an effective teacher. It is a creative process that allows us to synthesize our understanding of second language acquisition and language teaching training with our knowledge of our learners, the curriculum, and the teaching context. It is a time when we envision the learning we want to occur and analyze how all the pieces of the learning experience should fit together to make that vision a classroom reality.
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There are several benefits to writing a lesson plan. First, lesson planning produces more unified lessons. It allows teachers to think deliberately about their choice of lesson objectives, the types of activities that will meet these objectives, the sequence of those activities, the materials needed, how long each activity might take, and how students should be grouped. Teachers can reflect on the links between one activity and the next, the relationship between the current lesson and any past or future lessons, and the correlation between learning activities and assessment practices. Because the teacher has considered these connections and can now make the connections explicit to learners, the lesson will be more meaningful to them.
The lesson planning process allows teachers to evaluate their knowledge with regards to the content to be taught. If a teacher has to teach, for example, a complex grammatical structure and is not sure of the rules, the teacher would become aware of this during lesson planning and can take steps to acquire the necessary information. Similarly, if a teacher is not sure how to pronounce a new vocabulary word, this can be remedied during the lesson planning process.
A teacher with a plan, then, is a more confident teacher. The teacher is clear on what needs to be done, how, and when. The lesson will tend to flow more smoothly because all the information has been gathered and the details have been decided upon beforehand. The teacher will not waste class time flipping through the textbook, thinking of what to do next, or running to make photocopies. The teacher’s confidence will inspire more respect from the learners, thereby reducing discipline problems and helping the learners to feel more relaxed and open to learning.
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Some teachers feel that lesson planning takes too much time. Yet lesson plans can be used again, in whole or in part, in other lessons months or years in the future. Many teachers keep files of previous lessons they have taught, which they then draw on to facilitate planning for their current classes. In other words, lesson planning now can save time later
Lesson plans can be useful for other people. Substitute teachers face the challenge of teaching another teacher’s class and appreciate receiving a detailed lesson plan to follow. Knowing that the substitute is following the plan also gives the regular classroom teacher confidence that class time is being used productively in his or her absence. Also, lesson plans can document for administrators the instruction that is occurring. If a supervisor wants to know what was done in class two weeks ago, the teacher only has to refer to that day’s lesson plan. Finally, lesson plans can serve as evidence of a teacher’s professional performance. Teachers are sometimes asked to include lesson plans, along with other materials, as part of a portfolio to support their annual performance evaluation. Teachers applying for new jobs might be asked to submit lesson plans as part of their job application so that employers can get a sense of their organizational skills and teaching style.
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Many teachers teach the way they were taught as students. However, that might not be the best way. We need to constantly update ourselves with best practices that work, and how to teach more effectively. For example, a teacher who has only learned “how to” and not “why” when growing up will need to evaluate their gap in knowledge when drawing out the lesson plans for the semester. This gives the teacher confidence when delivering the lesson in the classroom. A confident teacher inspires respect from students, which in turn reduces discipline problems.
While being clear about what topics to teach is important, knowing how to teach them is the key to success in the classroom. The same topic can be (and should be) taught differently, depending on the students’ skills, temperament and attitude.
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There are many important benefits of having a clean and organized set of lesson plans. Good planning allows for more effective teaching and learning. However, many things can happen in class, and teachers need to adapt their plans to respond to the students’ needs. As Jim Scrivener says, “Prepare thoroughly. But, in class, teach the learners, not the plan.”
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