Writing an effective lesson plan will ensure that you are prepared for your class. It’s also a roadmap of what your students will need to learn. Gareth, one of our bloggers, has put together some tips to help you plan effectively.
Whether you’re a seasoned teacher or a newly minted NQT, the thought of an observation still fills you with trepidation. As soon as the date is set, your brain will barrel down an inevitable train of thought. Here are a few stops that my brain train makes along the way.
1. Ask advice from someone you can say ‘no’ to.
If you pick a superior, or your observer, you will end up feeling obligated to follow all their advice, whether or not it actually suits you. Kagan? VAK learning? Growth mindset? They’ll want you to stick it all in! Before you know it, you are trying to jump through fifteen different hoops at the same time. Keep it simple! Advice is of course, crucial, but can be really tricky. Find someone you trust. Find someone who is confident enough to suggest ideas and not be offended if you decide to go in another direction.
2. Show your workings out.
Remember what your maths teacher always told you? A detailed lesson plan is key to showing at the very least, what you intended to do. A lesson could hit a bit of a bump, or worse, your lesson could spin wildly out of control and hit a tree with smoke billowing from the engine. Sorry, that metaphor got away from me. The point is; an emergency, fire alarm or technical failure could result in things not going to plan. You don’t want to leave your observer in any doubt as to how you wanted the lesson to go.
3. Under-plan with an extension activity.
You can end up so desperate to show that every minute of learning time is being used you plan things to the minute. In the past I’ve actually written down that activities will take two minutes before moving onto the next activity, which will take precisely three minutes! Things overrun, students are late to lesson, you might need longer to explain a principle. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t hurt to deliberately plan a lesson that is five minutes short to give you a little bit of breathing room.
4. Embed techniques you want to use ahead of time.
How cool is it when you’re watching a lesson, when the teacher gives an apparently obscure instruction, and all the kids immediately jump to life? Whatever technique it is, it will be more impressive to an observer if it doesn’t need explaining and the students can get to it straight away!
5. Test out a lesson.
Got a class where you’re teaching the same thing as your observed class? Find a way to squeeze in your lesson prior to your observation. Nothing tells you what works better than a test drive! 6. Ask them if they thought they learned anything. What if they say ‘nothing’? This is a time to be honest, “OK guys, it looks like we’ve not quite got it in this lesson, let’s try again next week”. There’s nothing worse than trying to convince an observer that the lesson was great when it clearly wasn’t. The point is that you learn from it as well!
Bottom line; take your time, test it out and stick to a topic you’re happy with. Go get ‘em tiger!
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