Lesson Plans: Tips For New Teachers

First of all, TEFL trainees can take a sigh of relief: hammering out a lesson plan will not take two and a half hours all the time. That’s only for your first year.

I kid of course. While your first year will likely be harder than subsequent years, if you continue to teach that is, I’d guess that most teachers do not write out the same detailed lesson plans which are required for their certification course for long once the course finishes. Most teacher trainees, or “Celtoids” as some colleagues used to refer to them (us), spend an inordinate amount of time writing neatly organized lesson plans. It’s good because it forces you to think about things like how long an activity should take, what the goal is, and what kind of interaction it involves. Any teacher will agree that these things are important and shouldn’t just be forgotten about once your TEFL certificate is in your hand. Luckily though, once you get in the habit of thinking about these things, you don’t need to write down all of this information for yourself, much less for someone else, to read.

Having a lesson plan, at least a rough one, is important. Some teachers may just make mental notes, but it’s pretty common to have at least a short list of what you’re going to do, vocabulary words to check and yes, answers to the harder or more complicated questions so you’re not caught off guard. I like to put a short list of the lesson’s main points and goals if appropriate up on the whiteboard – partly so students can see what’s to come and notice that we are progressing, and partly to help them realize there IS a plan. I don’t just turn up in the classroom an open the book.

When I first started teaching, I felt like I needed to prepare long in advance and in detail…and to some extent, new teachers do need to do this. But once I got the hang of what makes a good lesson, I realized that going overboard on the prep is not what gives a lesson that extra something. Certainly, you need to prepare, there’s no question about that. But more than writing out all the concept check questions you’re going to ask, you have to have the right feeling about the lesson or group. You have to have a sense of how students are feeling and when they don’t understand or when they are ready to move on or when they need a light-hearted game. You need to build up a stock of activities that you can adapt to whatever you’re teaching. And these things do not come out of long lesson plans…they come from experience. So hang in there.