David Walters

Should teachers plan?

Is lesson planning an absolute must?


Planning comes in all shapes and sizes and there are a myriad of planning templates online for every type of lesson. No matter what type of school you work in, you are sure to be writing lesson plans of some kind, but just how useful are they?

Whatever your stance is, on the writing of lesson plans, it would be wrong to assume that they aren't useful at all. The fact is that they are, but the degree as to which they are differs from person to person.

Spotting problems

Most experienced teachers will be able to jot down their activities on a piece of paper, differentiating and spotting potential problems mentally. The plan may be sparce on paper but this doesn't mean that the lesson hasn't been well planned out in their heads.

For newly qualified teachers and teachers that aren't so experienced, detailed plans are much more important. Even if you think that you are planning well, it is likely that you will be missing important details, or potential sticking points for your lesson. Just the act of sitting down and writing out your lesson allows a new teacher to picture the lesson from start to finish.

The chance to assess

Lesson plans are also a good base for senior management to be able to assess your teaching ability.

While they can't be used as a sole indicator of a teacher's capability, as in-depth plans are easy to copy from the internet after all, they are a starting point. The ability of your Senior Leadership Team is also extremely important as to whether your lesson plans are useful or not. A good Head will be able to tell from watching one lesson if your past plans match up to the teaching in that lesson; they will be able to see how the lessons link together and offer advice of how to alter your plans to improve the effectiveness of your teaching.

Time-consuming

Planning takes up a lot of time and the time spent should reflect the impact it has on the children. There is nothing more infuriating than when you are asked for plans and nothing is done with them.

I have previously been asked to transfer all of my plans from one format to another, not adding any more details, but simply because the school wanted them in their format. No one wants to be writing plans and filling in boxes for the sake of it and time would be much better spent actually thinking of good activities to do with the children.

It is ironic that teachers are constantly bombarded with ideologies about how every child is different, and that they all have different learning styles, but when it comes to teachers we are asked to plan in one set way.

Every lesson needs some type of planning but that planning should differ from teacher to teacher. If after observing a lesson the groups aren't quite right, then absolutely, the teacher should be asked to make a note of the children they will put into each group next lesson.

If the activities are running on for too long or are finishing too early, the teacher should be advised to jot down times for activities. Planning is useful, very useful, but if used unwisely, it can also do more damage than good.


David Walters

Head of British Early Years Centre and Editor of BEYC magazine

 




Comments

I write out unit plans , scope and sequence, stopped doing weekly or daily. In my work I don't mention the books they are going to read etc. 'cause if the books I have picked turn the students off I stop and find another! As an aid for teachers covering for me looking at the plans to continue the work in 3 years not one teacher has done anything! In government schools I refuse because they are only will to allow the teachers to do as little as possible and with no promise of continued work, it is not worth the effort. In fact when I told them what I do the Head said "Oh! you teach advanced English!" to which I laughed and stated "No! Just standard core Thailand".

By Peter Burke, Phetchabun (17th July 2015)

"Senior Leadership Team"? What the hell is that? This article may be about lesson plans but it sure isn't about Thailand or teaching here!

Most people coming to Thailand to teach these days will be looking for ideas on how to fill their time in the classroom. Education has little to do with it in most schools - Just find a way to get to the end of the lesson, the day, the week. Their intentions are to use teaching here as a way to avoid going home.

Almost no-one is teaching here as a career choice and they aren't doing it for the money. I suspect that this academic babble about lesson planning isn't likely to resonate with many teachers in Thailand.

The writer isn't even talking about Thailand at all.

" in-depth plans are easy to copy from the internet..."

Really? Where's that then? The Thai forum of lesson planning in easy to download chunks with the name of your school on it .com?

"Planning is useful, very useful, but if used unwisely, it can also do more damage than good."

Sage advice, Obi-Wan Kenobi... but apart from this and other vague platitudes which make up this entire article, what do YOU think of lesson planning and what is YOUR opinion on how they fit into the scheme of things as they apply to Thailand?

The reason this article has no responses is that there's nothing to respond to.

By Mark Newman, Thailand (30th June 2015)

I used to think I had lesson plans 'down pat'. Plan for a week or maybe a month, depending upon the progress of the students. You know like mentioning simple objectives. a procedure , a possible evaluation. In comes my coordinator, after one year, and told me to follow his lesson plans.
Yes, they were simple. The heading for each unit. I showed him my lesson plans. I was not working there the next week. Lesson plans - keep them hidden - they might cause 'loss of face' J.S Lopburi

By Jeff Smith, Lopburi (24th June 2015)

Agree with Guy completely.

By Antoine, BKK (23rd June 2015)

Other than jotting down a few notes, lesson planning is a waste of time in Thailand govt schools. With 50 or more students per class and classes beginning late, postponed or cancelled on a regular basis, the typical Thai government school doesn't require planning to get through a day. In addition, teachers tend to 'travel' to student classrooms, so this fact alone defeats the entire idea of greeting students in a room and 'preparing' for a lesson. Teachers in this country are the Willie Lomans of the EFL world, and writing a scripted lessons make little sense.

By Guy, Bkk (22nd June 2015)

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