Have you ever experienced a class where there was no apparent plan? Perhaps the lack of a plan was obvious because your instructor was nervous or unsure of how to proceed. Or perhaps, while possessing a natural ability to speak at length to whatever happens to be on their mind, they lacked any clear focus or unity in what they had to say. The great John Hannibal Smith once remarked, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Of course, without a plan nothing can ever come together. Another familiar gem that comes to mind, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,’ (-Benjamin Franklin) speaks to the importance of preparation. Perhaps you can think of a time when you found yourself in front of a class of students wishing you had spent more time in preparation. How do those situations usually play out? In my experience, at the end of such a session I walk away feeling deflated with the sense that I have short-changed my students. If we believe that preparation is key to a successful lesson, how do we go about structuring our plans? The following section provides a few suggestions on how best to prepare your lessons.
As you may know, a lesson plan includes a description of the sequence of activities the instructor and learners engage in to achieve the desired learning outcomes. It also outlines a time schedule of the activities and a list of the resources to be used in the lesson.
There are several benefits to developing lesson plans:
- By focusing on a lesson plan, your teaching has a clear purpose
- Events in your lesson can be sequenced in a logical way to support learning
- Helps you to organize your time and keeps you on track
- Provides you an opportunity to select effective teaching strategies (more than just providing a straight lecture)
- A plan helps you to focus on essential content to avoid repetition
- Past and future classes can be intentionally linked, as well as opportunity to explicitly link your content to practice or real-world events (these details may be difficult to remember without a plan)
- A plan also provides opportunities to reflect on and inform future teaching practices
- Finally, you may include one of your lesson plans in a teaching dossier to demonstrate your teaching skills
It is important to keep in mind that a lesson plan is merely a plan, and as such, it is subject to revision and improvisation both during the lesson and after the lesson when reviewing it for changes for next time.