Updated: Nov 9, 2020
When starting as an NQT, the most time consuming aspect of the full time role is lesson planning. It is important to find a way of planning lessons quickly & effectively in order to be able to cope with the workload and not be overwhelmed by your timetable. To plan a successful lesson, it is important that the teacher and the students know the purpose (Bin-Hady et al, 2018). I have found that the best way to start planning a lesson is to plan the outcomes. What do you want them to achieve by the end of the hour? How will you check this? Once you have done this, you can come up with a series of activities that build towards this goal in a way that scaffolds the learner. To make things simple, you could start the lesson with a challenging exam question, take the student through all of the lesson activities before revisiting the question. An easy way to structure your ideas & you will be sure to see some progress. I would recommend using a simple structure for lesson plans over the documents that you may have seen during teacher training.
Do now activities
Once you have put together a lesson plan that you are happy with, it's time to consider the very first thing that will happen as your students enter the door. I would recommend looking at 'do now' activities which has been shown to be an excellent classroom management tool. 'Do now' activities are a way of promoting a calm, risk-free start to the lesson (Bonwell, 1995). Essentially, a 'Do now' activity is something that can get students engaged, motivated and straight into the right mindset for work. They can take many forms, however the key ingredients are that these activities are no more than moderately challenging, they should require no help or assistance from the teacher, and they should begin as soon as the students enter the classroom. I have trialed many different 'do now' activities, ranging from word searches, to silent reading of an interesting article. While I'd encourage you to be creative with these ideas, I would suggest that a silent start to any lesson is a good habit to adopt.
Finally, you will be aware that during teacher training and the NQT year, you are required to be reflective. This is forced upon us with forms and mentor meetings as well as during observation feedback. However, it is very important to recognise the aims of this process. It is not just a 'tick box' exercise. Reflecting on your practice is important as it increases your awareness of teaching styles, allowing you to challenge your approach and build towards becoming a more effective teacher (Shandomo, 2010). While reflection should be somewhat critical, it is also important to celebrate your own growth and success. Even in the most challenging lesson you have taught, there would be something positive that is unique to your way of teaching and you should not forget this. I'd advise NQT's to embrace a reflective approach, be critical of your practice but also remain aware of your unique strengths.
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