Teaching & Learning Cycle

By Nick, posted
For any successful course to be taught,  careful planning and preparation must take place. The teaching & learning cycle provides any teacher or trainer with a logical planning system to deliver well-structured lessons and to gain constructive feedback from learners & stakeholders. 
The cycle can be applied to any course, whether a week or a year-long qualification, each stage is relevant to the delivery of a well-planned lesson. The cycle is a learning tool for teachers and trainers to identify their own strengths and provides opportunities to make developmental changes for their future practice.   As a new teacher, I would always recommend having a reflective diary or system to record your teaching experiences or ask fellow teachers or colleagues to observe you during your teaching practice.

Identifying Needs

At the first stage of the teaching and learning cycle, you as the teacher will begin to find out about many factors such as: the needs of your learners, the needs of the organisation and the needs of you,  the teacher. At this initial stage, you may sit down with company managers to identify what training is required for your workforce or learners and establish the teaching and learning approaches or activities suitable for the needs of your learners.   Before teaching any new course, you as the teacher need to be confident of your subject specialism. You need to make sure there are no gaps within your knowledge as your learners may ask you a range of questions when teaching. You will also need to ensure that your own qualifications are up to date to teach the course otherwise you may need to fulfil some training to become more confident within your subject specialism.  

Within the identifying needs stage you will:

  • Find out about your learners: Such as their backgrounds, motivation for the course, goals and aspirations. 
  • Conduct initial and diagnostic assessments on your learners. 
  • Agreeing individual learning plans (ILPs) with learners. 
  • Identify the needs of the organisation. 
  • Identify your needs (the teacher/trainer).
  • Ensure learners are on the correct programme of study.
  • Identify any learners’ individual learning requirements.

2) Planning and Design

Stage 2 of the teaching & learning cycle is planning and design. This stage involves planning the overall aims and objectives of the qualification and highlighting the skills and knowledge that your learners will achieve by the end of the course. The planning stage will involve producing all of the paperwork and administration involved within the delivery of the qualification such as lesson plans and a scheme of work. These key documents will help you as the teacher keep on track with your lesson delivery and plan your lessons. You may be teaching a course with a fellow trainer, therefore collaboration within planning is important to share the preparation of the course and to ensure that you are understanding how to teach the content so that there are no inconsistencies with your teaching styles. Within the stages you may need to budget for course materials, resources and the booking of training facilities.

Within the planning & design stage you will:

  • Review the teaching environment to check it is fit for purpose. 
  • Check the teaching environment is safe and secure. 
  • Email learners the course administration such as application forms. 
  • Order teaching resources for the qualification. 
  • Check the learning environment is accessible for all learners. 
  • Book the classroom environment and any equipment needed for the course. 
  • Review the guided learning hours (GLH) of the qualification. 
  • Register your learners with the awarding body.

3) Delivery/Facilitation

Stage 3 of the teaching & learning cycle is the delivery/facilitation stage; this is the ‘active’ or ‘doing’ phase, where the teacher will simply teach their subject specialism, whether that is within a classroom or virtual format. You may need to make changes or adapt your teaching style or activity for example: the time of day when teaching learners may have an effect on their concentration levels and therefore selecting the activity or approach is important. As a teacher, it is important to show enthusiasm for your subject in order to motivate and keep the attention of your learners. There are a number of interactive teaching resources you can utilise to make your lessons fun and interesting. Try websites such as: Socrative, Kahoot!, Nearpod, Menti in order to make formative assessment methods dynamic and engaging.

Within the delivery and facilitation stage you will:

  • Teach your subject specialism in line with your scheme of work. 
  • Adapt your teaching delivery or change activities if learners are struggling to understand a topic. 
  • Provide on-course or formative feedback to learners to keep them on track. 
  • Monitor learner attendance & punctuality. 
  • Review the SOW after the lesson to ensure you are keeping up with your course delivery. 
  • Be mindful of timings, you may need to speed up or slow down your teaching practice. 
  • Make sure you teach your entire teaching content to ensure all learners have no gaps within their knowledge in preparation for their course assessment. 

4) Assessing Learning

Stage 4 of the teaching & learning cycle is assessment. This is where you as the teacher are checking that your learners have gained the skills and knowledge of the subject. Throughout their course, they would have encountered formative (on-course) assessment methods such as open/nominated questions, discussions, quizzes and games. At the end of the course, there is usually some type of formal or summative (end of course) assessment where learners will put all of their understanding into practice- for example a final exam or observation. It is important for you as the teacher to become familiar with the assessment standards/grading criteria. These are usually provided by the awarding body or exam board and can help you to make a judgement call on whether or not the learners have acquired the knowledge and skills of your qualification.

Within the assessment stage you will:

  • Carry out room booking for the final assessment. 
  • Arrange for staff to be invigilators. 
  • Mark of the assessment in-line with awarding body standards
  • Make a decision on whether or not the learner has achieved their qualification or if a re-assessment is required. 
  • Apply for course certificates.

5) Evaluation

The final stage within the cycle is evaluation, this is where you as the teacher will gain feedback from your learners about the course. As a teacher there are a number of methods you can use to gain feedback such as paper-based forms or electronic feedback through websites such as Survey Monkey or Menti where learners can submit feedback on an electronic device. It is worth noting that anonymous feedback where learners are not required to provide their name often receives the most honest and valid feedback. You can gain feedback from fellow colleagues, managers or mentors who may have observed you during your course delivery. At the end of some courses you may be required to present your course results to senior managers and directors, these could include pass rates, learner satisfaction results and your own opinions on the course delivery.

Learner feedback is important as you can gain feedback on:

  • Pre course joining instructions. 
  • Initial & diagnostic assessments.
  • Meeting course objectives. 
  • Meeting learners’ needs.
  • Learner satisfaction rates- did they enjoy the course? 
  • The learning environment. 
  • Feedback on teaching resources. 
  • Feedback on assessment methods.


After a course or qualification has ended, the teacher can take stock of all of the different experiences encountered within the cycle. It is worth noting that after the evaluation stage, the cycle reverts back to the identifying needs phase ready for a new course to be taught. As you repeat your teaching practice, you will become more confident and familiar with your subject specialism and even tweak your teaching activities or approaches based on the feedback from your learners.

 Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

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