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Lesson planning – why planning your lesson is important

Why is lesson planning important?

This article is taken from the EBC TEFL course Madrid syllabus.

This article, Lesson planning – why planning your lesson is important, is part of EBC’s strategies for teaching English series. The EBC TEFL course places a strong emphasis on lesson planning. Here’s why.

Lesson planning is important because it establishes your credibility as a teacher. It shows that you are organised, structured, have thought about what you are going to do, understand your area of expertise, etc.

Why should I bother with lesson planning?

  • Some experienced teachers appear to have an ability to improvise and think on their feet, which leads them to believe that they do not need to think about lesson planning. DON’T FOLLOW THEIR LEAD!
  • Most good teachers are acutely aware of the importance of lesson planning and keep on planning their lessons throughout their English teaching career.
  • A plan shows your students that you (their teacher) has devoted time to thinking about them and their needs.
  • Lesson planning shows professionalism and commitment.
  • Lesson planning helps you to think about where you’re going.
  • Lesson planning helps you to think out ideas for the future.
  • Lesson planning helps you remember what you intend to do.
  • Lesson planning makes you structure your lesson so that it flows coherently and covers the tasks towards the objective.
  • Lesson planning gives students confidence that you have thought about the lesson and know what you are doing.
  • A lesson plan gives your lessons shape and a framework.

Is lesson planning a 100% sure thing?

Like all things in life that involve a group of human beings, 100% success is almost impossible. Improvising due to unforeseen circumstances is a skill a teacher needs but it is NOT a valid excuse for not planning your lessons.

  • You may find your lesson plan needs to be adjusted during the class. It is your call whether you let it happen or not.
  • If you really have to improvise and adjust the lesson plan, try to get back to the plan as soon as you can.
  • It is rare but not unheard of that you’ll need to modify your plan “on-the-fly” and sometimes need to ditch it completely, so don’t panic if you need to do either of these. The usual circumstance for this happening is when you teach your first lesson to a brand new class. If it happens to a class that you’ve taught before, did you plan properly?
  • In the extreme case of you needing to change or ditch the lesson plan in the classroom, take a mental note of why, and adjust other lesson plans accordingly. Don’t ignore the experience. Do act on it to prevent something similar happening again.

Planning never guarantees success but it certainly helps a lot. Just because one plan didn’t quite work out it does not mean that your other plans are useless or that lesson planning is a futile exercise.

My lesson planning promise

  • I will prepare some component tasks or texts weeks in advance.
  • I will prepare specific lessons usually not more than a day or two in advance.
  • I will ensure that the lesson can be linked to the one before and that the programme of classroom tasks and activities is fresh in my mind.
  • In addition to the plan, I will write down brief (less than a page) lesson notes.
  • My notes will remind me of:
    • what I want to do,
    • task order,
    • page numbers if I am using a book,
    • notes of specific language items I intend to teach,
    • cues or questions for tasks,
    • resources I will use,
    • reserve activities for use if I find myself with extra time.
  • I will write down my teaching objectives.
  • If necessary, I will refer to my notes and plan during the lesson.
  • I will file my notes and plans for future reference and use.

The hidden benefit of lesson planning

As you write and execute your plans in the classroom, you will see their effectiveness and where they need tuning up. If you keep your lesson plans, you will quickly build up a portfolio of lessons that you know will work. The beauty of this is that if you need to teach a new class, chances are that a lesson you have taught before will work. You may need to tune up the plan for the new class, but at least you’ll have an excellent idea about what you are going to do.

Don’t waste your lesson plans, they are future time-savers!

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