This blog post is for all those new to the teaching game who feel as though structuring and planning each lesson is a constant looming black cloud over their heads. Even if you’ve been teaching for donkey’s years and are just on the hunt for a fresh, new planning formula to update your classes, have no fear, these tips and tricks will help you stay on top of the game. You’ll be the envy of your fellow teachers with everything planned down to a tee soon enough!
- Write down ideas asap
As all teachers know, a frazzled brain is an almost daily occurrence and so many different ideas and thoughts are constantly swirling around your mind, it’s difficult to hone in on just one and pick out any good ones.
As soon as a good idea for a lesson pops into your head, write it down. On paper, on your phone, laptop, anywhere, as long as it’s recorded, then you can develop on it at a later stage. As long as you capture the initial idea, the rest should be easier to work on as the skeleton of the lesson has already been created. Also if you write down eureka ideas as you have them, you’ll probably end up with a few to choose the best from.
Getting the plans made as soon as possible is always a good idea, you may feel resentful at first and unwilling to do the work straight away when you know you have a few days or a week to do it however you’ll thank yourself in the long-run. Not procrastinating will mean it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it anymore, not to mention your best work is probably going to be produced from a quiet, positive environment where you can work at your own pace rather than a rushed, night before offering done in a panic.
2. Take time to think about structure
When you have an initial idea, it’s best to take some time to yourself to plan and think about it in detail. Pick a quiet space at home in the evening and just spend some time thinking in depth about how to make the most out of the idea and how to develop to make it more fun and interactive. Think about the introduction, the middle and the end and how to make the whole class flow. Dedicate a small part of your evening to write everything out and work out alternative ways the plan could go. Pondering the structure will help you feel more on top of the game as you know you would have covered everything that needs covering.
3. Always think about lesson objectives
Another good tip is to get into the habit of creating lesson objectives so both you and your students can keep track of what the learning will be about. A simple sentence that captures the point of the class can also be helpful in the detail planning as it reminds you as the teacher to keep focused and keep referring back to what is relevant and what is not.
Lesson objectives sum up the whole class and make it easier for students when they are referring back to their notes during revision or reading tasks. It’s good practice for everyone and helps you feel more organised and the classes more put together and well thought-about. If you’re ever stuck with planning a lesson, the learning objective should help you out and give you something to shape your class around.
4. Plan lessons that are informative but also engaging but think about the ‘bones’ first
One of the most difficult problems teachers face is attempting to make their lessons interesting and too much pressure is put on every class being ‘fun’. It’s important that you engage with your students and where possible it’s a great idea to make learning interactive and more enjoyable, but don’t put such pressure on yourself to make everything ‘fun’. Lessons need to be informative primarily, they need to educate and prepare students with the knowledge they need to succeed. There needs to be a reason for everything you teach, every minute of learning counts it’s a good idea to plan the lesson first and then decide if there’s any interactive aspects you can include. When you’ve got the ‘bones’ of the class sorted, then you can get creative. Ask the class to get into groups and present on a topic, get them to make graphs or drawings instead of standard note taking or host a quiz about a theme.
5. Try to make it topical if possible to demonstrate links to modern life
If students can link what they learn to problems or situations in real life, they are more likely to remember and things will stick in their minds. It will also seem more ‘relevant’ to them.
In something like a history class, try and create parallel links to anything that is currently going on in the world. With English or when talking about novels, you can even liken fictional characters to modern celebrities or situations in books to real life events to engage your class.
So with these tips in mind, hopefully planning your lessons should be a little less daunting and a lot more enjoyable. For further tricks and techniques, check out this other great article ‘NQT Boot Camp, Five Tips For Lesson Planning‘.