Rob Newman

The enigma of lesson plans

Why do teachers hate them?


Why is it that schools have to fight the teachers to get them to do their lesson plans on time, or even do them at all? Let's face it; lesson plans are part and parcel of a teacher's work load. So, let's look at what a lesson plan is and why it is so important:

First and foremost a lesson plan is a tool. A tool that helps teachers organise their lessons so that the students can learn in a methodical and well structured way. It is also a tool for the school administration to let them know what you are doing in the classroom. Let's be honest, the school pays your wages, no matter how pitiful they may be, so they have a right to know you are doing your job correctly. In Thailand the Education Ministry also want to see what you, the teacher, are teaching the poor unsuspecting students. Yes I know the argument that nobody ever looks at them, but that isn't your problem, it's the schools.

The students are the ones that benefit most from a well prepared lesson plan. By the teacher preparing a lesson plan, the teacher is organizing their thoughts and ideas along with a coherent follow on from previous lessons. By following on and building from previously taught subjects the teacher is allowing the students the opportunity to review items that may not be clear in their mind, and put in place the necessary building blocks for language acquisition. Lesson plans also really do help the teacher, especially the teacher who has had no formal teaching training.

It's strange, teachers who are qualified teachers in their own country don't normally have a problem with making their plans, it is the teachers who come from a business background object the most . Strange that isn't it. You would think it likely that people who come from a business background would see the benefits of planning ahead, or am I being naive?

Why should the teacher have to plan their own lesson? Don't lesson plans come with a well designed syllabus or curriculum? Come on! Who knows the students better, you the teacher who sees the students all the time, or someone in an ivory tower who never sees a student? As a teacher you need to be flexible, if something you planned isn't working, change it. With a ready made lesson plan you can't change anything. You just have to keep fighting your way through the lesson. You don't do anybody any favours. With your own plan, you can change things on the spot, help those that need help, and rearrange topics into an order that the students can learn from. One thing I have learnt is: Every teacher teaches in a different manner.

Schools also want lesson plans in advance so that if you are absent, the teacher taking your classes knows what you have been doing, and can either continue where you left off or recap. You say you won't be absent, with the food in Thailand, you can never be sure.

We all know that once you do your lesson plans, nobody ever looks at them, but that isn't your concern. If the school asks you to do something that is in line with the real work of teaching, are giving you the time to do it, and are paying you a salary, why do you have a problem doing it? According to the schools, the ministry of education does sometimes pick on a school and go through everything with a fine toothed comb. The school never knows when or if it will happen. What they do know is if things aren't up to scratch they get jumped on.

There are thousands of lesson plans on loads of websites that can be adapted to suit any lesson. Try looking at the following websites for help:
http://www.eltweb.com/liason/index.html
http://sitesforteachers.com/index.html
http://iteslj.org/Lessons/
http://www.csun.edu/~vceed002/index.html

There are more, many more, but these area few of my favourites.

Happy planning.

P.S. Anybody who has ever worked with me will find this article ironic, as I am one of the worst lesson plan writers ever.




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