As much as I dislike the act of lesson planning, when I take the time to plan well, my lessons are awesome! Many teachers struggle with the amount of time it takes to plan a great lesson, so many times; they wing it. Some have been teaching for so long that they know what they need to do and how to do it. Sound familiar? Because education is ever-changing and teachers are constantly looking to improve upon their own methods, lesson planning becomes important in every part of what happens in the classroom.
Lesson Plans & the Classroom
How many times have you told your students over and over to take their time? Probably around a million. When we as teachers take our time to plan out our lessons and learning activities, it becomes clear that there are things to be considered that maybe would not have been without a plan. As much as I truly dislike lesson planning, I can see that there are far more benefits to the practice than there are disadvantages.
1. A Good Lesson Plan is Imperative to Effective Teaching
There are several aspects to having clear lesson plans that affect the way you teach positively.
- When you have good lesson plans, you’re a more confident teacher. Having these lesson plans take the guesswork out of everything that you’re doing.
- In the planning process, you have already considered all of the different resources and materials that you’re going to need for the lesson.
- Having a clear lesson plan allows you to think about how you would deliver instruction in a way that all students understand.
- It gives the teacher (you) plenty of time to prepare for all variables.
- Allows you the opportunity to search for new ideas to enhance your class lesson.
2. Classroom Management Skills
Lesson planning is a crucial first step in effective classroom management skills. When your class is chaotic, it’s a reflection of the environment. Teaching and learning cannot happen in chaos. When you prepare your lesson ahead of time, you are more organized. Therefore, your students are more organized.
One way in particular that lesson plans help in this particular area is simply that because you already have your steps mapped out, you can communicate those clearly to your students. Having an effective lesson means that you are prepared to give your students step-by-step instructions, and there are no questions about what is next.
3. A Good Lesson Plan Anticipates Different Needs
As teachers, we want all students to understand the importance of a lesson. If the lesson in the classroom was not important and why would we be teaching it in the first place? One of the main aspects of planning an effective lesson is considering the different needs for students to learn.
Sometimes this looks like planning several different projects for students to choose from with one and goal. Other times this can look like grouping students according to ability level and knowing who does and doesn’t need assistance.
4. Have Clear Objectives & Goals Visible
Having clear goals and objectives visible to all students in the classroom is a lesson planning result and falls into the category of classroom management. Without you having to tell the students anything, simply looking on the board allows them to see exactly what their goals and objectives are for the day of the week. This only comes from having lessons and activities that have clear and concise goals and communicate expectations of students before you even say a word.
5. You’re Always Ready For a Substitute
With a thorough lesson plan ready, you will seldom have to worry about wasting time when you are out. While a substitute teacher can never take your place in the classroom, you can at least ensure that learning or review will still take place in your absence. Having a lesson with activities and resources ready at any point for a sub also sends the message to students that you are holding them accountable even in your absence.
6. Ensures Your Lessons Align With Requirements
Just about all states within the United States have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Today, the only states that continue to base lessons and curricula off their own set of standards are Alaska, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Virginia. However, all other states and their curriculum must align directly with those learning standards. Therefore, all lesson plans created by teachers must include specific standards.
Teachers that use a teacher planner and prepare their lessons in advance can consider which standards need to be met and what resources they need to ensure their students can demonstrate knowledge of those learning requirements. Further, assessment systems that many schools use to determine the effectiveness of teachers look directly at lesson plans and their alignment with state standards.
7. Having a Lesson Plan in Advance Makes You Look Professional
A teacher with a clear lesson plan seems more professional and put together than one who doesn’t. Every observation I have had, or even given, rated whether or not there were clear objectives and goals visible, whether or not students were genuinely engaged, and there was a lesson plan. Further, without fail, the person observing me always wanted a copy of that day’s lesson plan.
Final Thoughts on Lesson Plans
Long story short, teaching without a lesson plan is like driving somewhere you have never been before without a map. Like with any trip, you look in advance to see where you are going and how long it will take to get to the destination. Also, with a trip, you consider potential complications, things you will need along the way, and what you will do once you get to your destination.
A good lesson plan is a road map for you and your students. As the teacher, you consider the roadmap of how you want to deliver the content, you preemptively consider any bumps your students may have along the way, and lastly, how you determine that what was taught was absorbed. A great lesson plan ensures that learning happens, which is the goal of all teachers everywhere.