“A lesson plan is an extremely useful tool that serves as a combination guide, resource, and historical document reflecting our teaching philosophy and our goals for our students” (Linda Jensen).
Lesson plans are particularly important for newly teachers and beneficial for those teachers who have been teaching for years.
Why we plan?
When teachers are preparing a lesson plan they have to bear in mind what to teach, in what order and for how much time. A lesson plan is also a valuable paper that can be useful when teachers have to prepare quizzes, midterms and final exams.
As teachers expect students to come to class prepare to learn is necessary to provide the example and come to class to teach.
When and how we plan?
To make an appropiate lesson plan teachers need to develop a macro and micro planning. It means that teachers have to begin with a reflection of a philosophy of learning and teaching (macro level) and then, finish with a specific lesson (micro level).
When the texts and the syllabus have been selected, the next step would be the planning for the year or term. It’s a great idea that newly teachers consult their collegues and supervisors about those designs.
What a lesson plan looks like?
There is not only a specific way in creating a lesson plan. It depends on the teacher’s preferences and experiences. For instance; many teachers use notebooks for each class, some other use note cards or loose sheets of papers which can be distributed among students. Nowadays, even computers are use by many teachers.
A lesson plan has three phases: A beginning, a middle and an end.
First, the majority of the plans start with a description of the class and students. Teachers also find important to note what they have explained and what will be necessary to be explained for a future particular lesson. Goals and objectives need to be included as well as a variety of texts, equipment and materials.
Teachers should pay attention in noting any homework so that later they can collect them and return to their students at the right time.
Second, it refers to the lesson’s content. This includes all the activities carrying out during a lesson, time management and class management.
For the presentation and practice stages is necessary to begin with a diagnostic activity. Then, the teacher have to bear in mind how to connect those previous activities with the new ones and how these activities could motivate the students.
Lastly, the teacher should evaluate if students have learned all the new material.
Time management can be unpredictable both for novice teachers and the experienced ones because they cannot anticipate how long an activity will take. In one hand, activities are underestimated in terms of length. Here, the teacher have to decide what part of the lesson should be skipped, shortened or saved for the next class. On the other hand activities are overstimated. Generally, newly teachers become very nervious when they have ten minutes left with nothing to do.
Seating arragements befohand help the teacher to save time because it’s more efficient than moving students around randomly.
Third, a lesson plan contains some comments that end the lesson. For instance; a review of the lesson and the homework for the next class.
Basic principles of lesson planning
A good teaching lesson need to have coherence, variety and flexibility.
• Coherence: On the macro level, the different kinds of lessons need to be connected with each other. On the micro level, students have to understand the goals of each activity ( They benefit best when activities are interrelated)
• Variety: Lesson plans should not follow the same pattern everyday. On the macro level, a variety applies to topics, language and skills. On the micro level, everyday lessons should vary its activities, materials involved and the pace of the class.
The classroom organization also have to change in terms of whole-class, small group, pair and individual activities.
• Flexible: Good teachers have to know when and how to change an activity regardless of what a lesson plan says.
In conclusion, in order to make a successful lesson plan, teachers have to take into account the principles of second language learning and teaching and the needs of students and the institution.