The 8 stages of teaching my own materials

I sat down to plan a General English class for our adult learners to the other day. I say plan, more like adapt. We have an in-house set of lessons so there’s already a plan in place, but the lesson needs tweaking to suit the learners. Anyway, I opened up my lesson schedule and there it was – ‘Lesson 93 – English around the World’. Just another lesson for other teachers, but really significant for me. It was the first time ever I’d taught published materials that I’d actually wrote!

I’m teaching my own materials week in, week out. Sometimes a coursebook or other materials are dry so I either just adapt them or scrap them and write something else. Most of my colleagues do the same, it’s standard procedure. I’m happy to share the resources I make with other teachers, if they turn out to be any good that is! But this time it’s different. I was actually paid to write these materials, they are formally published as part of a regional syllabus across 15 countries, and teachers across the region are using them daily.

My first thought – pride. It’s so cool. It’s a real sense of achievement to see something you wrote looking all organised on a handout. It’s funny to read teachers notes with your inner voice and remember the actual voice who wrote it was you…! Sure, it’s also a bit of an ego boost I guess, but that happens.

My second thought – relief. Phew! It’s Lesson 93! It’s one of the 50 or so lessons I wrote that I was fairly pleased with.

Third – confusion. Man, what are all these documents?! There’s like a handout and teachers notes, that’s standard, plus a few cut-ups. Then there’s a sort of jigsaw reading task, a running dictation, some more cut ups or something. Blimey. I went overboard for sure. A lot of this must be optional. I better read my own notes.

Fourth – annoyance. Who on Earth plans a lesson with this amount of cutting up? I mean, does this writer actually teach on a daily basis?! Are they aware that most of the allotted planning time is going to be spent with scissors in hand? Grrr.

Fifth – apprehension. Wait, OMG. What if the lesson is rubbish? I developed a pretty thick skin last year with regards to lesson feedback. Overall, the stuff I’ve written has gone down well, but you can’t please everyone all the time. And those teachers who aren’t pleased? It feels like they love to tell you… That’s fine, I value the feedback, but not as much as student feedback. Here’s my chance to hear what the students have to say… I’m not sure I actually want to know!

Sixth – reassurance. Come on! I know this lesson was written with my teaching style in mind, which I use as it suits the learners needs anyway. It’ll be fine. Apart from the cut ups. Who needs that many cut ups?! There is no way I’m going to win the office ‘Green Champion’ award this year having used all that paper…


Seven – reflection. That was alright. Hey, the materials were pretty good, if I do say so myself (*pats self on back with Stage 2 feeling again*). There was a whole optional practice stage I included that learners didn’t need, that wasted a bit of time. I think the guy who wrote this stuff was just showing off a bit trying to cover all bases. If only it wasn’t that same guy delivering the lesson – maybe his ego wouldn’t have got in the way and he’d realise that the learners didn’t need that extra support. Oh well. Seriously though, the lesson was pitched at the right level, the activities were well sequenced with some solid skills practice.

Eight – denial. You know, when I think back about the whole writing process I’m not sure much of that lesson was written by me anyway. I remember having to make a fair few changes because my editor said certain things wouldn’t work. For a lesson written by me, I couldn’t even find one pun in the teachers notes. Plus, there wasn’t even one spelling mistake on the handout – that’s very unusual. You know what… I might just pretend it was written by someone else in the Materials team. That way I don’t have to make excuses if another teacher complains about the amount of cut ups… ‘Lesson 93? No, not one of mine…’

Categories: General, materials writing

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