Besides teaching research and literacy, I also teach courses on "Methods and Approaches in English Teaching". Teaching these courses is quite challenging; these courses will become the foundation of their teaching, so one must take them very seriously. I also enjoy these courses as they let me tap into what I learned in my master's (my MA, as I mentioned elsewhere in this site, is in Teacher Education). I will talk about some ideas related to lesson planning, classroom management, and other relevant ideas as they arise. Novice and veteran teachers alike are welcome to add comments and suggestions for additional resources.
NOTE: I owe the inspiration for this page to my students in "Content Area Nature & Condition" at UPB. I decided to work on this page preparing my lessons on lesson planning and classroom management and I will continue adding ideas as I keep working with preservice teachers.
The Essentials of Lesson Planning
Lesson planning is something that teachers at any level should never take for granted, but that is more crucial for novice teachers. A good lesson plan can be the difference between running a smooth, engaging class or one where students can tell you're improvising. It doesn't mean there might not be any room to changes on the run, but those changes should always come from a well-crafted plan. This entry will walk you through the essentials of lesson planning, including a rationale for why we need it, the basic structure of a lesson, and some samples.
WHY LESSON PLANNING, YOU WONDER?
We may see many teachers "wing it" or improvise their way out of a lesson. However, only the really good, seasoned ones, can "get away with murder." Others might fail miserably while improvising a lesson... actually, most people fail at improvising a lesson unless they're very knowledgeable and experienced. I have a particular saying for that:
So, make sure you always plan your lessons at best and carefully outline them at worst.
There is another perk to lesson planning: It may help build your confidence. You will look better prepared in front of your class, as you are more organized and structured (this will also help with classroom management, mind you). Also, It is much easier to make changes "on the fly" when you have a clear destination (and believe me, you must always be ready for that!) than when you have no road map at all.
While the format might differ (and you'll see some examples at the end of this section), there is some agreement about how to set up one's lesson. Here are some important elements that should make it (both explicitly and tacitly) to your lesson plans:
Topic - What are you planning to explain/discuss today? Is this a lecture, or a more hands-on activity? Is the topic part of a whole unit, or is it a stand-alone topic?
Learning goals/objectives - What will your students to be able to do at the end of this lesson? What will they learn? SUGGESTION: Write your objectives first and foremost as learning objectives. You want your students to be involved in the lesson.
As a side item, you may also consider your teaching objectives: What will I teach them today? What do I expect them to do and learn in this lesson?
You may also link the lesson to the existing standards for your content area.
Introduction/Motivation - Don't start the class right away! There needs to be a sense of getting off the ground (this relates to activating schemata, as we discussed it last class). Make the introduction explicit at the beginning of the lesson. If you tell the students what they're going to do and why that is important (Mora, 2013), your odds of getting them involved are much higher.
Activities/Procedures - Outline what you intend to do and how. Will there be explanation involved? If so, what will you say and how? Will students engage in performance? What will they do and how? Here it is also important to include the resources you'll need. You can think of them separately, but you must weave them into the lesson. You must also think about the time allotted for your class. A useful tip is to make sure you have bell-to-bell activities, especially at the end of the class (we'll return to this on our discussion of classroom management).
Conclusion/Consolidation - Don't end the class without wrapping up the contents. If the topic is part of a unit, then link it to the bigger picture. If you're explaining, say, grammar or vocabulary, set it in the larger communicative context.
Looking back on your lesson - It's always useful to reflect upon what we did. Did your lesson go well? Then, how we can make it even better? Did it not go as planned? Then, what can do to improve it next time?
Now, take a look at all of these quality resources that offer you more ideas on lesson planning: