Lessons are at the heart of the classroom—they’re the plan for what you’ll be teaching and how you’ll present information to your students. Taking time for lesson planning is essential. While it certainly is possible to wing it as a teacher, you don’t want to make that a habit. Your students will learn more when systematic plans are in place, and you’ll have clear documentation of what you’ve taught.
No matter what subject you teach, having lesson plans will make teaching go more smoothly. While there’s not one right format for planning, be sure to ask your principal how to make a lesson plan, to find out if your district has a format or template you will be required to use.
When you’re ready to begin, here are seven tips for developing lesson plans.
1. Know What You’ll Be Teaching
Before you can write your lesson plans, you have to know what you’ll be teaching. Use your school’s curriculum, the state’s learning standards, and information from your fellow teachers as a guide. Go through the material to make sure you’re familiar with everything.
If you need to brush up on any topics, you’ll want to read the material more thoroughly. You may need to do some quick research to make sure you’ll be comfortable teaching it.
Once you know what you’ll be teaching, you can write your objectives. Objectives are what your students need to learn from your lesson.
2. Use the Same Lesson Plan Template Each Time
Developing a lesson plan quickly takes practice. You need to make this process a habit. Using the same lesson plan template each time will help.
Your lesson plan book will give you some ideas, though they don’t usually elaborate. If you need lesson plan examples, check out this page on Scholastic. Once you pick a lesson plan format that you like, stick with it for a while to develop the habit.
3. Decide on a Hook
Before your students can learn, they need to be engaged. Many successful teachers develop a hook for their lessons. Hooks are a way to draw students into the material and make them eager to learn.
Hooks don’t need to be elaborate, just something simple connecting the material to pop culture, world events, or something you’ve already studied. Hooks can also explain why students should learn the material. For instance, learning to add and subtract decimals will help students balance their checkbooks when they’re older.
4. Know What Materials You’ll Need
Teachers aren’t boy scouts, but the motto still applies; be prepared! You need to list the materials you’ll need for each lesson. That way you’re sure to have everything ready.
Nothing will lose control of a class faster than a teacher wasting class time looking for a missing worksheet or manipulative. Make your classroom management easier by making a materials list for each lesson.
5. Check for Learning throughout the Lesson
You want your students to learn what you are teaching. In order to monitor their learning, embed quick assessment opportunities into your lesson as you plan. Think about what you’ll do, and write down your ideas.
You can ask a question, have your students complete a sample problem, or have a quick discussion. Taking time to write these opportunities into the lesson plans will help you remember to include them as you teach. You know your students best, and will be able to gauge their learning based on these assessments.
6. Be Willing to Change Your Plans if Needed
Sometimes the best lesson plans just don’t work. If you find from your quick assessments that your students aren’t following you, you’ll need to be willing to change your plans. Being flexible is essential.
7. Take Time to Reflect
When you get a chance after a lesson, take a few moments to reflect. Think about what went well, and what didn’t. Take some notes on what you’d change the next time you teach this lesson. If you had to change plans partway through, make a note of that. Reflection will make you a stronger teacher.