The Basics of Planning and Reviewing a Lesson
The lesson plan functions as a roadmap for the teacher, providing an organized framework for the planning, preparation, and execution of the lesson and serving as a record of what has been completed. It should not be a detailed script, but rather a guide that allows for flexibility and adaptation in the classroom. The plan is a living document that may continue to be refined and enhanced after execution, incorporating lessons learned.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Simona H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Through the process of developing a plan, the teacher will be able to organize their thoughts on the lesson objectives and the sequence of steps required to meet the objectives. Although lesson planning can be performed in a variety of formal and informal ways, a documented plan, especially for first-time teachers, will ensure that all key components have been considered before class. There are several lesson plan format templates available on the internet and via ITTT. Regardless of the format, a lesson plan should consider the following components:
Basic Class Identification
Basic class identification information includes teacher and observer names, date/time, class level, class size, room number, classroom formation, and lesson duration.
The learner objectives are from the viewpoint of the student. What do you want the student to be able to do or know as a result of the lesson?
The personal aim is from the teacher’s perspective. What area of teaching do you want to improve upon as a result of the lesson?
The language point identifies the premise of the lesson and how it ties to past and future lessons.
Also Read: How To Write The Perfect ESL Lesson Plan
Anticipated Problems and Solutions
Anticipated problems and solutions are considered from two viewpoints: the teachers and the students’. The key is to anticipate problems that may arise with a lesson so that the teacher can help prevent them as part of the execution or have proposed solutions readily available.
This is the bulk of the lesson plan. It lists the execution steps of the lesson. Each procedure step identifies the ESA phase, expected duration, type of interaction (e.g., T->S), and teaching aid to be used (as applicable). It is best to structure this portion of the lesson plan as a table so that it is easy to complete and reference.
An ESL teacher may be provided a coursebook and respective teacher’s book. The teacher’s book may include course syllabuses and lesson plans. Although the materials are tried and tested, often provide a balanced mix of vocabulary/grammar and skills, and will reduce preparation time, it is important to be cautious of simply using the lesson plans provided. The lesson plan may not match the skill level of the class, maybe for a longer/shorter duration than allocated class time, may assume equipment that is not available (e.g., projector, television, computer, etc.), and may include topics that do not fit the interests or culture of the students. Therefore, commercially developed lesson plans and materials are a good reference for a teacher; however, for a lesson to be successful, these plans should be adapted and supplemented to best serve the student.
Also Read: How long does it take to get a TEFL job?
Developing and executing a lesson plan is only part of the process. Teachers must always aim to improve their lesson plans for future use and continued personal and student success. A teacher can use a lesson evaluation form to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a lesson plan and execution. Areas that may be included in a lesson evaluation form include:
- How well were the learners’ objectives and teacher’s aims met?
- Were the anticipated problems properly identified? Were the solutions appropriate? Did other problems arise?
- What was the overall effectiveness of the E-S-A phases?
- Were modifications to the procedures made “real-time”? If so, why? Will they be applicable in the future? Were they successful?
- Were the projected durations accurate? What took more time? Less time? Why?
- Were the activities appropriate and successful?
- Were the materials appropriate and applicable?
- Are there any other areas of improvement?
A lesson evaluation may also include surveying the students formally (e.g., via questionnaire) or informally (e.g., via guided discussion) to obtain the students’ perspective on the lessons, topics, and skill development. This would help enhance teacher/student rapport while increasing student awareness of what is happening in the classroom.
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The teacher will be responsible for developing a series of lesson plans. A successful series should aim to meet the overall defined goals, reinforce and build upon previously taught topics, and remain flexible and adaptable. The lesson plans should vary in terms of ESA method, activities, and skill(s) focus to reduce student boredom and class predictability. Lessons should also be structured appropriately. For example, the lesson plan for the first class should focus on establishing student rapport and identifying student needs, skill level, and aspirations through activities rather than focusing on the coursebook or formal instruction. A lesson plan for a young learner class would include short interactive activities, utilization of colorful props/objects, and oral exercises/drills/chorale. Meanwhile, a lesson plan for an intermediate or advanced group of adults may include the use of authentic materials and more complex activities such as debates and role-playing.
A well-thought-out plan, accompanied by a teacher’s patience, positive attitude, and enthusiasm, should help make for a successful lesson and a positive learning experience.
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