Here are a few more lesson planning advices from EFL teachers, and a “breakdown” of lesson planning.
Janice, taught in South Korea, the Philippines, London and currently in Thailand.
“Teachers are there to teach students not the lesson plan. So if the lesson plan isn’t working then abandon ship and try something else. So what if you spent hours writing up the perfect lesson plan with time codes, if students aren’t responding then be flexible. More experienced teachers will have things in their back pocket to pull out when this happens. New teachers have to figure out what activities they are comfortable with adapting to at the last minute.”
TEFL Tony, taught in Ecuador, Uruguay and the U.S. and currently in China.
“The 3 Ts: Test them in some way to see if they know it or how much of it they already know. Teach them in various fun or interesting ways that are different every day. Test them again to see if they learned the lesson. Don’t try to do (teach) too much in a lesson.
The best way to eat an elephant is with one little bite at a time.”
Me, taught in Hawaii & Ecuador and currently in Thailand.
Even if you’ve taught the lesson many times before, try to look at it with fresh eyes. You’ll do your students, and yourself, a favor. I equate it to editing in writing, you’ll be surprised by the “mistakes” you catch and how you can improve on it.
Breaking down the Lesson Plan:
Timing: This is tricky because you just don’t know how long something is going to take. Sure, you can slate 10-15mins for an activity but sometimes this can grow to 30mins or have the opposite effect of taking no time at all. That is why in Part 1, several teachers said to plan for extended activities just in case the latter happens.
Knowing your students definitely helps, but you have to think on your big feet. If an activity goes too long, what can you cut out? If something takes 5mins, what can you add to the activity? Or should you simply move on?
Pace: I’ve watched teachers who move rather slowly, in my good opinion. There are, of course, many benefits to working this way, such as allowing the students to comfortably absorb the material. Feeling rushed is a frustrating feeling. I just think about my experiences learning Thai or Spanish and then I know how the students are feeling. Watching different styles of teaching has helped me relax and remember to slow down.
You see, I work primarily with “Juniors” or 13-15 year old students. An age group that I told myself I’d never work with. Ha. Ha. Ha. And this age group requires the kind of work and attention you need with children (cause they still are), so I’m moving around the room, and generally fast paced to keep boredom at Far-Long bay. Plus, this jumping around style fits my personality, and when I watched another teacher with a similar style, I have to admit, I felt better knowing I wasn’t the only one.
I think you have to decide what style suits you best, but keep in mind how the students are feeling.
The beginning middle and end: When I first started to teach EFL, I stuck a ‘warmer’ in the beginning of my lessons that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the main lesson. Now that I’m a bit more seasoned, I try to integrate my activities and games better, so that the warmer flows into the introduction of the lesson.
Whatever TEFL or CELTA course you took, it’s worth following the outline that they give you for listening, reading and grammar lessons. In other words, there is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and forget what you learned. I find myself returning to the fundamentals, looking at the teachers manuals for our textbooks and doing more work online.
Because as I finish my third year of teaching, I know it is easy to fall into a rut or a pattern of doing things that work but aren’t necessarily improving my teaching or helping my students along.
I know some teachers like the idea of their lessons ending with a BANG, but honestly I think it needs to just end in a way that feels like they used their time wisely and well. More and more, I’m coming back to the creed, “If they can do this (an activity) at home, then do they need to do it in the classroom?”
I am no longer interested in “time wasters” or activities that take up a lot of time cause I have to teach a 3 hour class. I’d like to think I’ve become a better teacher so I’m up for the challenge of weaving the material in a way that is useful for the students.
But I ain’t no saint. I could tell you a thing or two about my teaching fails 😛 but what about you? How do you tackle lesson planning? What’s your advice?
Did you miss part 1? 🙂