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How to plan lessons quickly and effectively.

Updated: May 22

The bread and butter of teaching- according to the DfE the average secondary school teacher spends 12 hours per week working at home or on the weekends, with most of this time being taken up by planning or marking. There can be times where we might feel this is unsustainable but being dedicated to the profession, we are unwilling to let our students miss out on well planned lessons. While remembering that being a teacher is all about teaching great lessons, here is a simple way to ensure your lessons are effective with minimal planning time.

In order to plan a great lesson, it is important that the teacher and the students know the purpose. (Bin-Hady, Wagdi Rashad & Abdulsafi, Adnan. 2018) What are you trying to achieve? What would you like the students to be able to do by the end of the lesson. This gives the teacher a starting point and can help overcome the feeling of working from a blank canvass. Students also respond better to a clearly purposeful series of tasks.

So number 1, start from the end. Your success criteria is the first thing you should decide on. You can add to this later but keep it simple, something that is achievable in the hour or two that you have. Secondly, you need to know how you will check that students have achieved this goal. In order to do this you should come up with a very simple way for students to showcase their learning. It could be something as simple as a before vs after type of task. I'd recommend using an exit ticket. Students can fill this in at the start and end of the lesson to show progress that they have made.

Tip number 3, you need a main body of the lesson. This should include 2-3 tasks that allow students to explore the topic, something that guides students towards the learning outcomes. This is where you get students engaged and working hard. This part of the lesson may include a reading comprehension task, a video with follow up questions or something more active like a gallery walk. Each of these activities should reveal to the students some aspect of the success criteria in a memorable way. At this point, you could prepare some relevant questions that will accelerate progress through these tasks and stretch students beyond the originally planned progress. These questions would be the gap filler between each of your main activities in the lesson and are important in assessing the impact of each task.

Now you have a lesson, I'd just top this off with a captivating starter or 'do now' activity. This is tip number 4 and it could be that you include some questions from your previous lesson, something competitive like a crossword or word-search or literally anything loosely related that has students enter the room calmly and gets them straight into work mode.

With all this in place, you have the foundations of a great lesson. You can now begin to think about more advanced aspects of your teaching.

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