Published 2nd February 2016
Planning lessons and writing lesson plans can be boring and time-consuming. Sometimes we get stuck, simply because we are not sure which of a hundred ideas is the best one. Always we want our lessons to be amazing and spectacular and so we can spend hours trying to come up with incredibly creative and ingenious ways of teaching, and trying to find the perfect materials to support these ideas.
Thankfully, that’s really not necessary. In lesson planning, the simpler, the better. As teachers, though a lot of our work is done outside the classroom – both before and after the lesson – we need to save our energy and our brainpower to tackle whatever happens in the classroom. Our interactions with our students should be what’s important, not what we do in the staffroom, so follow these three tips and you will cut down on your preparation time and still have effective lessons.
1. Make the most of your materials
It can take a long time to find the right materials to support our lessons, and an even longer time to develop and write our own, so it can be disheartening to use a resource for only five minutes. Instead, look at ways you can make the most of your materials to make them last longer.
For example, if you have found a great reading text, use the topic of the text to create a discussion before the reading activity; use the same text to create a gap-fill activity or a word transformation activity; or, divide the text and turn it into an information-gap activity.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep any materials you make or find, and keep them where you know where to find them! If you laminate any pieces of paper for an activity or flashcards, keep them so that next time you use them you will save time.
2. Personalise your lessons
Always try to relate the topic of the lesson to your learners, their lives, their experiences and their opinions. By doing this, you will be able to do a whole range of activities which don’t involve any paper or materials. For example, if your lesson revolves around vocabulary relating to technology, ask your learners to compare how they use technology in their daily lives, or let them come up with a list of they think are the most important inventions of the century. These can all be speaking activities so they need no extra materials. What’s more, relating topics to your learners makes the contents of the lessons more memorable.
3. Start at the end
The most important part of the lesson is usually what is done at the end of the lesson, the accomplishment of the main aim. Don’t spend ages trying to think of a cool warmer or a fun revision game. Focus on the main aim of the lesson, come up with an activity that will achieve that, and the rest of the lesson should flow from there.
There’s no need to spend your life planning your lessons. If you use these few methods, you’ll be able to focus on the more important issues of teaching.