Should we plan lessons?
There are various schools of thought on this issue. Some scholars suggest that lesson planning is not a good idea, as it creates a more fixed, teacher-centered lesson. It is true that too much planning can make lessons rather rigid and stop the teacher from being flexible to the needs of the students. However, it is especially difficult for inexperienced teachers to be as flexible as this would require. The teacher is expected to let the students decide what to do in the class, but an inexperienced teacher would find great difficulty in being able to conduct a lesson in such a way. New teachers wouldn’t be prepared to deal with some of the language problems that may arise from such a lesson and lessons. They will get lost, and their teaching will lack direction.
Most teachers will find themselves somewhere between these two extremes. They will make notes or complete lesson plan forms, but will build in flexibility.
The writing of lesson plans has a number of important functions:
1. An aid to planning
Writing down what you expect the students to achieve by the end of the lesson, and how you intend to make that possible, helps you to think logically through the stages in relation to available time.
2. A working document
A lesson plan helps you to keep on target and gives you something to refer to during the lesson. However, it should not stop you from being flexible and responding to the needs of the class. For example, if the class is really enjoying a particular activity, the teacher will probably want to extend the time allocated to that task and maybe postpone other tasks until a later lesson.
3. A record
A lesson plan acts as a record of what a class has done and which materials have been used. Are you likely to remember what each class did six months ago if you haven’t made a record of it? Recording class content will also help if you are ill and another teacher has to cover your classes.
How should a lesson plan be written down?
There is no special way in which a plan must be written. Some teachers write formal plans–some jot notes, some log details into class notebooks. Each teacher has to find their own way. If you have to change your plan during the lesson for whatever reasons, you should also make a note of those changes so that you will have an accurate record.
Basic principles of lesson planning are as follows:
• Keep it simple. You may need to refer to it during a lesson.
• Do not try to script the lesson.
• Structure it and maintain the same structure.
• Write the anticipated time for each activity in the margin.
• Check for balance of skills. Try to make sure activities fit together to give the lesson a smooth flow.
• Keep it flexible and open to adaptation.