Lesson Planning: Benefits and Drawbacks
In a society where it is much easier for us to become increasingly distracted by some of the banalest things (such as videos of cats playing the keyboard on YouTube), my generation, in particular, needs to establish a strong sense of organization and focus to ensure that these distractions do not leak into our work lives, causing a decline in our professionality and work ethic. Therefore I believe lesson planning is an effective tool in helping to create a stronger sense of organization within the teacher, both in and out of the classroom. In addition to providing a general layout of the teacher’s lesson (including grammar points and step-by-step instructions for particular activities that are more complex than others), a lesson plan can also stipulate certain goals, objectives, and potential problems as well as solutions to these problems. If written clearly and concisely, the lesson plan can even be executed fairly effortlessly by a substitute teacher, should the original teacher not be able to attend the lesson.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nicholas M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Like any element of teaching, a lesson plan has its positive and negative traits.
Most notably, an effective lesson plan reflects a thorough organization on the teacher’s part and is a step in the right direction when considering the above mentioned struggle to establish organization and focus. Lesson plans are quite beneficial for new teachers like me, who are still trying to develop their preferred method and approach in the classroom, as they remove the burden of having to constantly think of what to do next and, consequently, allow us to focus on our approach to our students and our teaching. However, some inexperienced teachers may, unintentionally, adopt an element of intransigence towards their lesson plans by following the “script” of a plan and not allowing for flexibility, whereby constantly guiding the direction of the lesson back to the plan whenever the lesson begins to follow another path.
Another benefit of lesson planning is its use as a record of past and future teaching (including identifying content and grammar points as well as documenting problems encountered by both the students and the teacher). Again, unless utilized to its full potential by the teacher, the record may be meaningless if it is not updated: a teacher may have organized a lesson based on modal verbs, for example, but then find that the content was a little more difficult than expected and the final activity of the lesson was not completed. However, the incompletion of this activity was not noted, therefore, when finalizing the class’ achievement test, the teacher had not realized that a part of the syllabus was incomplete. Moreover, a lesson plan can be as basic or detailed as required by the teacher: inexperienced teachers will find a detailed lesson plan more effective whereas more experienced teachers, who have a deeper understanding of their method and approach as well as the course content, may simply use dots points or basic phrases – if anything at all – as a reminder of what activities they want to use in the classroom rather than excessive explanations.
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I feel that some teachers, especially more inexperienced ones, spend more of their time figuring out the schedule of their lessons rather than correcting tests and exploring new content; this is where lesson plans can be most beneficial. If teachers enter the school year, or course semester/trimester, already knowing what they are going to teach and how they are going to approach their classes in the most effective ways possible, they can use spare time to develop more effective methods of teaching whilst also focussing on the creation of stronger rapports with their students based on their needs. Therefore, having already completed a full set of lesson plans before the lessons begin is, in my opinion, the most effective way to increase one’s – the teacher’s – efficiency and focus whereby allowing themselves to dedicate their efforts to other pressing matters during the course. Having completed the plans in a fairly basic and general fashion before the commencement of classes allows for both flexibility in the classroom as well as modification of the written plans if the teacher finds other material or activities to be more captivating.
As a fairly new teacher, I aim to utilize lesson plans to increase both my organization skills and efficiency within the class. Sometimes I have tended to stick a little too close to some of the plans that I have previously created if I felt their content to be extremely important for the students to learn, however, at times, I also don’t mind slightly veering off the path of my plans if it leads to the intellectually stimulating conversation or a more authentic use of the English language.
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I will continue using lesson plans for the foreseeable future but I do expect that I will eventually reach a point where my confidence in my approach and knowledge of the class content will be strong enough to permit me to not have to write every single thought down on paper.
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