Let’s face it lesson planning is often considered ‘the bane of a teacher’s life’, the minutes and hours spent on creating plans could be spent on more important matters such as creating fresh and dynamic resources or researching interesting news articles to share with your learners.
On the flip side, there are many advantages of lesson planning. Nothing breed’s self-confidence in a teacher more than a well-planned lesson, especially for newly qualified teachers who rely on timings and structure to teach their subject specialism. 

A key benefit of lesson plans, is that once created they can be saved, stored and even shared with your colleagues. This can reduce preparation time and can even assist you if you are a course leader who requires other staff members to deliver a subject area. 

From an organisational point of view, lesson plans help to break down the teaching qualification and go hand in hand with a scheme of work, it can show whether or not you as the teacher have time for ‘active learning’ or if a lesson should be more focused on completing coursework or revising the subject content.

Lesson plans can identify which teaching activities are to be implemented within a lesson and can help track what techniques you have utilised within a lesson to avoid repetitiveness with your learners – variety is the spice of life! 

Lesson plans do not need to be too detailed, simply a page outlining the different sections of the lesson is sufficient.  Many educational establishments such as Ofsted would wish to see a lesson plan when observing teachers but it must be reflective of daily teacher’s life.

Teachers may create a three page lesson plan for every lesson, but this is simply unrealistic and problematic to teachers in the long run. In essence, a lesson plan should be one page long, detailing the different activities to be delivered. Above all, keep lesson planning simple!  

What should a lesson plan contain? 


Aims 


Aims are what teachers and learners want to achieve in a lesson or a course. Different classroom activities are planned in order to achieve these aims. In other words, the aims on lesson plans often describe what the teacher wants learners to be able to do by the end of a lesson, or what they will have done during it.

There should ideally be one aim to the lesson, keywords for a lesson aim could be: To demonstrate, to investigate, to develop, to create. The aim should ‘marry up’ with the scheme of work and can be used to track the progress or the course or subject delivery.   

Objectives


Objectives are the individual stages that learners must achieve on the way in order to reach the overall aim of a lesson.  
The objectives must be clear to all learners and are the steps the learner will go through to complete the aim. Learning objectives should include active verbs such as ‘state’, ‘explain’, ‘outcome’, ‘list’ or ‘describe’.

There should be a maximum of 2-3 objectives for the lesson, any more could become confusing for the learner. 

Numeracy


Embedding functional skills such as numeracy is key for later life. Most careers wish for learners to have a minimum of level 2 within numeracy and therefore by promoting opportunities to develop these key skills within your lessons will contribute to their career prospects.

Promoting numeracy does not need to be explicit, try to make it relevant to your own subject content. For example, calculating the cost of running a business in your subject area, understanding the price of equipment or researching the salaries of career paths stemming from your subject.

The key to this functional skill is to keep matters simple, numeracy could be simply counting out loud or even working out percentages.  

Literacy and Language


Creating opportunities to promote literacy and language can help your learners to boost their confidence, freedom of thought and interaction with their classmates. Typical activities include: Discussions, paired work, role plays, reading journals, articles and websites, reading aloud in class and group work. 

Why not create debates within your lesson which are relevant to your subject. For example discussing key topics such as Brexit will not only prompt discussion, but will help learners to improve their written answers for ‘Analyse’ based questions. This in turn, will require learners to examine strengths, limitations and different points of view.

Remember to promote the ‘ground rules’ of the classroom which will make learners understand that different opinion and points of view will be shared, but should be listened to and respected. 

Independent Learning


As good as ‘busy’ and interactive lessons are, it is equally important for learners to have some time of independent learning to think, reflect and improve their own practice. Independent learning could involve answering questions in a mock exam, independently working on an I.T project, reading a textbook in silence or even working on a skill such as carpentry.

By allowing your learners to become more independent and ultimately more resilient, they will rely less on the teacher and be more proactive when something goes wrong. Remember, one of the fundamental aspects of learning is acknowledging what errors have been made and rectifying them for future practice. 

Equality and Diversity 


Promoting equality and diversity within the classroom can help learners understand more about the individual differences and contributions of people from all walks of life. 

Equality is ensuring that all learners with your classroom have the same opportunity to achieve regardless of their individual characteristics. Some learners may need reasonable adjustments or extra time in order to complete a task, others may be independent and can help others once they have completed their task.

Diversity is recognising that all people are unique and are different in terms of their personality, cultural background, religious beliefs, the list goes on. A way to promote diversity within a lesson is to create resources with multicultural themes, actively promoting multiculturalism within lessons and using a variety of teaching and assessment methods. 

Stretch and Challenge


Extension activities are opportunities for those learners who have completed their set work. Activities could range from watching a YouTube video on a particular subject, reading a journal or article or even helping their classmates by reading their work and providing feedback and support. 

Another way learners can stretch and challenge their own knowledge is by becoming a class representative or ‘rep’. This is where learners will take responsibility for the group and make classroom decisions, reps are also a good way for learners to provide their thoughts on the lesson content.

Extension activities can even be stored on a virtual learning portal such as ‘Moodle’ which can be accessed by learners to complete rather than having paper based extension tasks. By showing the stretch and challenge logo on a PowerPoint can become an incentive for learners to focus and challenge one another to complete a task. 

Key to success


Employability skills are important for your learners to understand what career paths and avenues your subject could take them. Job search engines are a great way for learners to see what key skills are required for specific roles.

Another way to promote employment skills is to deliver activities and create assignments which are geared towards industry, for example, mock role play job interviews, group presentations, CV writing or even creating an invoice or balance sheet. 

Experiencing employability opportunities will make learners more confident in their own abilities for when they apply for jobs. 

Health and safety


Not all lessons are ‘chalk and talk’ others require learners to use specialist equipment, tools or even PPE. By giving learners the chance to hone their skills is important to their development and interest within the subject.

For every practical based lesson, try to estimate how much equipment is required and whether or not a risk assessment is needed prior to the lesson. It is good practice for teachers to keep stock of their apparatus and consult superiors if stocks are running low and any broken equipment needs to be changed.

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