5 Tips For Preparing a Teaching Plan
Apr 25, 2011 Teaching 3801 Views
For new teachers, creating thorough, effective, well-timed teaching plans is the most time-consuming activity you will do. Even experienced teachers spend a great deal of time in lesson preparation when perfecting previously used plans, teaching a new subject, and/or starting with a new textbook series.
Many schools require that their teachers follow the plan guidelines of certain educational "specialists." In 1988, when I arrived in Colorado, Air Academy School District #20 was following Madeline Hunter; so all teaching plans had to contain the features of a Madeline Hunter format. Some schools go so far as to require turning in teaching plans to the appropriate administrator. (A very big waste of time!)
However limiting this can feel, if your school requires a particular person's format, be sure you use it. Some administrators go a little overboard with this requirement and make a discipline issue out of closure or having a mission statement on the wall. These people have lost sight of what teaching is really all about; but do remember that just as you are being evaluated, they, too, are being evaluated by how well you perform.
Always remember that it is possible to make your teaching plan fun for you to teach and students to learn, unique, and extremely effective within any required framework. The following 5 tips will leave you, your students, and your administrators pleased with your results.
5 Tips For Preparing A Teaching Plan:
1. Know and use brain-based teaching techniques. This is not a structure to follow. Instead, these are techniques that are grounded in the research into how the brain learns. Many of these techniques have existed for many years--used by very successful teachers who just "knew" they were effective. Other techniques we have learned from recent discoveries and applied to the classroom. Whether new or old, these techniques can be added to any lesson format to make the learning more effective. If your are unfamiliar with these skills, be sure to read Eric Jensen.
2. Always keep primacy/recency in mind. Students remember best what was presented first and they remember 2nd best what was presented last. New material should be taught at the beginning of the class period--don't use this time to go over homework from yesterday. (Many math teachers tend to do this incorrectly.) Likewise, don't let students sit or stand and do nothing at the end of the period. You are wasting the 2nd most receptive time for each student brain.
3. Know that your initial plans are too long. As teachers, we tend to over-plan the class period--have too much to accomplish--and underestimate the time it will take our students to do activities. Activities can offer wonderful learning opportunities, but you don't want to sacrifice getting the new material covered. Try to structure your lesson so that an activity can be shortened or even omitted if time dictates--especially if your department requires every teacher to be at the same place each day. Handling activities takes lots of practice, so don't try to include them too often in the beginning.
You probably have too much in your plan and could safely remove 25-50% of it, but do have a Plan B in case something goes very wrong, like an equipment failure, or the day's schedule gets suddenly changed to 20 minute periods instead of the 50 minutes you expected.
4. Have many creative ways to quickly check for understanding. Checking that your students are understanding what you are teaching needs to be quick but frequent. You cannot assign homework on material that hasn't been practiced and they can't practice what they don't understand. Individual white boards make this check a very simple process. If you discover that they didn't get something, you must go back and re-teach. There is no reason to move forward.
5. Remember that students can only PRACTICE what they have done CORRECTLY at least once in class. Your plan needs to allow enough time to make sure that happens. Likewise, you must constantly be checking on the correctness of what your students are working on in class. Try to never allow a mistake to get practiced.
These five tips along with whatever format you are to use SHOULD allow you to create an effective lesson plan. However, plans don't always work the way we expect. As you teach or immediately after class, makes notes to yourself about this particular plan. How was the timing? Did anything work really well? Is there something that didn't work at all? Is there any area where students seem to be missing skills that next year you should check for ahead of time? Does this plan need to be re-worked? Write anything that will improve this lesson if you teach it again.